The work of several West Virginia University researchers from the Davis
College Division of Plant and Soil Sciences and Eberly College of Arts and Sciences was
recently featured on the front cover of the Journal of Chemical Education. Their
article, "Demonstrating the Effect of Surfactant on Water Retention of Waxy Leaf
Surfaces," reports on their development of chemistry and biology lab curriculum.
This curriculum development, led primarily by Kang Mo Ku, assistant professor
of horticulture in the Davis College Division of Plant and Soil Sciences, and his
graduate research assistant, Yu-Chun Chiu, is both inexpensive and accessible
to undergraduate students, albeit not limited exclusively to them, as it is also accessible
to middle school and high school students. The curriculum allows all students
to gain hands-on learning experience while using technology with which they
are quite familiar -- their own smartphones.
The article, published in Vol. 94, Issue 2, of the Journal of Chemical Education,
outlines how this curriculum "can help students learn about the scientific method
and the role of plant epicuticular waxes and surfactant function on waxy plant
leaves as real life example in the agricultural industry." Treated and non-treated
collard leaves are used to demonstrate the function of surfactant.