With the end of the semester fast approaching, most students would do anything to avoid the onslaught of final exams looming over their heads. Students in Dr. Angela Slitt’s Toxic or Not class may find themselves checking one exam off the list.
Dr. Slitt, professor in the Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences department, is offering an alternative project to students in her GCH 103 Toxic or Not class. This is no final paper to replace an exam. Instead, students can get credit for doing something most of them do every day – posting on Twitter.
The class of approximately 20 students is broken into several groups named after dangerous chemicals such as BPA, arsenic, lead, mercury, asbestos, ricin, dioxin and DDT. Â These groups post on Twitter under the handle @toxic_uri with their team hashtag in order to inform the community about dangerous chemicals that can be found in our everyday lives. If the class gains 500 followers by the end of the semester, they will be excused from taking the final exam.
Because a previous semester’s class already completed this project and got 300 followers, this semester’s class has to bring the cumulative total to 800. They currently have 550 followers and are optimistic about reaching their goal.
“I definitely think they can do it,” said Professor Slitt. “Every class I’ve offered it to has reached the goal.”
Dr. Slitt got the idea for the Twitter project partly from her husband, who uses Twitter frequently, and from noticing that students needed a better way to learn and retain information.
“This project allows them to interact better with the class and gives them a mechanism to share what they’re learning with the community,” she said.
John Thomas Cunha, a freshman, agrees with Dr. Slitt about the benefits the project has on his learning.
“It really helps us learn,” he said. “Instead of just listening to the professor talk, we have to retain the information and come up with a creative way to share it publicly.”
Although the entire class responded with a confident “yes” when asked if they will reach 800 followers, Dr. Slitt is offering other options just in case the class fails to reach its goal.
“If we only get 425 new followers we can opt to take a ‘B’ as our final grade,” said freshman Jeremie Harnois. “If we get 300, we still have to take an exam, but will only be tested on the material we’ve learned since our midterm.”
Here are some example tweets that warn against dangerous chemicals that we face daily:
“DDT which is used for pesticides, historically was causing reproductive problems in alligators #TeamBPA”
“Be cautious when eating swordfish! Larger fish have higher concentrations of mercury than smaller fish. Try flounder instead! #TeamRicin”