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MIT OpenCourseWare releases first episode of the ChemLab Boot Camp Series

Videos follow 14 MIT freshmen through their introduction to hands-on science.
The ChemLab Boot Camp Class
The ChemLab Boot Camp Class
Photo courtesy of George Zaidan

MIT OpenCourseWare has released the first episode of its newest open educational offering, ChemLab Boot Camp, a video series that chronicles the experiences of 14 real MIT freshmen as they get their first taste of working in MIT chemistry labs.

Each year, groups of MIT freshmen are introduced to MIT’s laboratory environment through a four-week January course called 5.301 Chemistry Laboratory Techniques. In January 2012, a film crew followed these students as they competed to complete experiments. The stakes in the class are high ± students who pass the class are guaranteed a job in an MIT research lab.

Ten additional episodes will be released each week through the fall, and announced on the ChemLab Boot Camp e-mail list. The two- to five-minute episodes, shot in a style that mixes the geek fun of open educational resources with the immediacy of reality TV, brings viewers closer to the experience of being an MIT student than ever before. Follow the students as they struggle to master the intricacies of working with solvents and compete to create the largest crystals. The videos are part of a broader effort funded by The Dow Chemical Company to foster interest in science and engineering careers.

“Despite the critical need for more and more people trained in chemistry and chemical engineering, the fields have not been as attractive as they should be,” said John Essigmann, a professor of biological engineering, in commenting on the inspiration for the series. “Dow and MIT have mobilized our collective resources to try to show high school and college students what it is like to be a chemist. We hope to show the human side of our field and to inspire young people to want to become the next generation of chemists.”

The MIT-Dow Outreach Fund is designed to develop and support the science and engineering careers of underrepresented minorities and women. A five-year, $2 million commitment from The Dow Chemical Company, the fund supports the advancement of the shared goals of both Dow and MIT to support science education throughout the entire pipeline.

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