and emit light and the competing de-excitation pathways by which fluorophores can give off their energy are important concepts. Proper analysis of the signals and images captured with optical microscopes is crucial to avoid misinterpretation of data and erroneous conclusions. Assuming that in the future optics will play a stronger role in the classroom physics curriculum, the following topics could be covered:

  • Building a human eye from optical components. Analysis of its performance; corrective optics for the human eye.

  • Light sources and optical components (filters, lenses, lambda/half and lambda/quarter plates, polarizers).

  • Introduction to optical microscopy; illumination, building of a simple telescope or microscope.

  • Differential interference microscopy.

  • Confocal microscopy.

  • Photophysics of light absorption and emission, competing deactivation pathways; kinetic analysis.

Chemistry Laboratory

Chemistry laboratory courses frequently focus on teaching specific research techniques. Experience indicates that students are more excited about courses in which they feel they are discovering something new, not just trying to duplicate an established experiment. The two objectives can be combined into a project-based laboratory. For example, in a synthetic organic chemistry experiment, different groups of students could perform the reaction at different temperatures. This would enable them to determine a rate constant for the reaction, and also its energy of activation, and for different times, to see the effect on yield of the product. Another possibility is to determine the effect of reaction conditions, such as the duration of synthesis, on the ratio of the desired product to other products. All of this is relevant to optimizing a synthesis, a common real-life research goal in industry. The variation in results among students performing the same experiment would also introduce them to statistical analysis of experimental data.

Chemistry laboratory courses are also excellent places to teach some fundamental aspects of the science. For example, infrared and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopies are most appreciated if students examine

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