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  • Photo of Eric Kehoe, a science teacher for the Janesville, Waldorf, and Pemberton school district, works on an experiment during the green chemistry workshop.
    06/26/19

    High school teachers learn about green sustainable chemistry

Photo of Professor Jane Wissinger and high school teachers Cassie Javner and Cassie Knutson leading a workshop for teachers on how to integrate green, sustainable chemistry in their classrooms.
Professor Jane Wissinger and high school teachers Cassie Javner from Shakopee High School and Cassie Knutson from White Bear Lake High School led the multi-day workshop for teachers on how to integrate green, sustainable chemistry into their classrooms.

Nineteen high school teachers from across the state of Minnesota participated in a workshop, June 18-20, in the Department of Chemistry to learn how to integrate green and sustainable chemistry into their classrooms. The workshop, run by Professor Jane Wissinger and high school teachers Cassie Knutson from White Bear Lake High School and Cassie Javner from Shakopee High School, provided hands-on experience with laboratory experiments representing safer and greener chemistries to evaluate as additions or drop-in replacements for their curriculum.

A third of the experiments explored the topic of plastics and sustainable polymers in the classroom and were developed by Wissinger’s research group. As Beyond Benign Lead Teachers, Knutson and Javner provided guidance and discussion of select experiments designed to substitute traditional high school experiments using hazardous chemicals with those meeting the same learning goals and Next Generation Science Standards in a green, effective way while minimizing waste.  

Alumnus Daniel Ries (left) and his partner Mark Szybnski work on one of the green chemistry experiments.
Alumnus Daniel Ries (left) and his partner Mark Szybnski work on one of the green chemistry experiments.

Former University of Minnesota chemistry major Daniel Ries  who worked with Professor Philippe Buhlmann was one of the teachers in attendance. Two of the teachers will continue research projects this summer as participants in the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program, working with professors Kyle Bantz and Lee Penn.

Time was allotted for each workshop participant to develop a green chemistry implementation plan to incorporate at least two new experiments and/or classroom activities in the coming academic year. All teachers earned continuing education credits (CEUs) from both the University of Minnesota and State of Minnesota. Approximately half of the participants will earn graduate credits by submitting a report on successful inclusion of green and sustainable chemistry at their schools. The workshop was funded by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and the MRSEC RET program in partnership with the Center for Sustainable Polymers. The Department of Chemistry provided laboratory space and services. 

Group photo of the nineteen high school teachers who participated in a workshop, June 18-20, in the Department of Chemistry to learn how to integrate green and sustainable chemistry into their classrooms.
Nineteen high school teachers from across the state of Minnesota participated in a workshop, June 18-20, in the Department of Chemistry to learn how to integrate green and sustainable chemistry into their classrooms.