High school teachers learn about and experiment with green chemistry
Professor Jane Wissinger hosted a workshop for high school science teachers focused on green and sustainable chemistry curriculum for their classrooms. Twenty-one teachers from across the state of Minnesota (as far as Morris and Moose Lake as well as local) participated in the multi-day workshop, July 17-19. In both classroom and laboratory learning experiences, the teachers learned about the principles of green chemistry, sustainability goals, and their application in addressing human health and the environment.
The Center for Sustainable Polymers (CSP), in partnership with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and the University’s Materials Research Science & Engineering Center (MRSEC) offered this free workshop. Wissinger is a CSP investigator and is a leading expert in green chemistry. Her co-hosts were Cassandra Knutson from White Bear Lake High School, and Cassidy Javner from Shakopee High School. Both Knutson and Javner are associated with the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center's (MRSEC) Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program.
Workshop participants gained hands-on experience with safer, cost-effective labs that minimize waste and are drop-in replacements for traditional secondary chemistry labs. Accompanying resources illustrated how these materials can be adopted and meet current education standards. Highlighted experiments included making bioplastics from starch, use of poly(lactide) (PLA) for oil spill cleanup, greener precipitation reactions, use of iodine/starch or tea for Le Chatelier’s principle studies and more. Many experiments engage students through relevance to sustainability and their daily and future lives.
Teachers were tasked with developing an implementation plan on returning to their schools and commit to incorporating at least two green chemistry experiments or activities during their 2018-2019 academic year. Teachers completing the workshop earn Continuing Education credits from the University of Minnesota and optionally receive graduate credits from the Colorado School of Mines.