The Arsenic Project -- Issues surrounding the environmental and analytical chemistry of arsenic compounds in the environment form the basis of extended periods of guided-inquiry and research.  Students (both undergraduates and K-12) can work both in small groups or individually.  The topics are all related to aspects of the research interests of the Tyson group (Chemistry, UMass Amherst), and activities are modeled on authentic research practice.  Participants are motivated to (a) stay with STEM subjects for further study, and (b) seek out further research experiences.  Two versions have been in operation in the K-12 sector: an after school program that was run as part of the NSF-funded Research Academies for Young Scientists (see, and an in-school version that was created during the NSF-funded Graduate Student in K-12 education program ( known as STEM Connections) that ran from summer 2002 to fall 2006, and is still going on in a couple of classrooms.  The undergraduate project, which was modeled on the middle school activities, takes students in their first year of study and provides all of the components of an authentic research experience, including working with more experienced group members, use of literature, proposal preparation, report writing, oral progress reports, experimental design, data analysis, time management and conflict resolution.  More details are available at  Student evaluations of the undergraduate program are uniformly positive and many students do, in fact, go on the seek out individual independent studies later in their undergraduate careers, both on campus and through various REU programs around the country.  An additional feature, that was not part of the original design, is that the graduate student mentors report several professional development benefits for their own research and mentoring skills.  Financial supporters are the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the UMass Center for Teaching.

Julian Tyson, University of Massachusetts,

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