LOCK HAVEN - Lock Haven University and seven other institutions of higher learning will share a $503,280 grant awarded by the National Science Foundation over a four-year period.
The Phase II grant is intended to expand and refine the Application-Based Service Learning pedagogy from its focus in Western Pennsylvania to eight institutions in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.
This pedagogy uses five practices documented as having a high impact on student learning: learning communities, writing-intensive courses, collaborative projects, undergraduate research and service learning.
Through ABSL, all these practices are incorporated into courses in which students address a community-based problem, such as the possibility that feral cats carry pathogenic microbes, or that areas impacted by mining or manufacturing practices might have altered water quality or issues associated with their redevelopment for other uses," said Dr. Joseph R. Newhouse, associate professor of biology and lead professor for Lock Haven University.
Under the leadership of Newhouse, LHU students will collect water samples from natural springs in central Pennsylvania and analyze them for fecal bacterial contamination.
Many natural springs are used by local residents to collect water for drinking purposes, and the springs are not routinely tested as residential water supplies are.
Money from the grant will enable interested undergraduate students at the LHU Clearfield Campus to participate in the study, receive a stipend and gain valuable research and service learning experience.
In addition to honing their scientific expertise, students will learn important skills in written and oral communication and leadership.
Funding also will be used to purchase state of the art water quality testing supplies, a stereomicroscope outfitted with an advanced digital photomicrograph system, and a laptop to record and store results of the study. The ultimate purpose of the study is to electronically disseminate the results to the public, and incorporate the project into a basic microbiology course as an example of how techniques in microbiology can be used to benefit public health.
This feeds into the overall theme of the grant which is transformation of undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through application-based service-learning.
The findings of the LHU study will be shared with ABSL classes at the other institutions involved in the grant. This project is being jointly funded by the Directorate for Biological Sciences and the Directorate for Education and Human Resources, Division of Undergraduate Education, as part of their efforts toward Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education.