Service learning has been incorporated into the Analytical Chemistry Laboratory to give students a real world sampling experience including both soil and water, alongside professionals in their fields. Analysis of the soil and water includes metals, suspended solids, phosphorus and nitrogen containing compounds requiring knowledge of several different instrumental and wet chemical techniques. Most educational experiences do not afford students the chance to see the real world applications of their classroom knowledge, but with the service learning aspects this deficiency has been resolved. In the soil experience, students provide homeowners from the Highland Park and South Wedge neighbors with lead analysis of their soil as well as written reports of those levels and information on removing or working with lead contaminated soil. For the water project, students are providing baseline analysis of nutrients and metals found in Buckland Creek for the Department of Environmental Services, Division of Pure Waters, which studies the effects of industrial expansion and human activity on water quality in Rochester. The analytical chemistry students further their experience in an advanced analytical chemistry course the following year by performing further analysis on the soil and water, but on a more independent level. They use their previous learned skills to gather water after rainfall and perform analysis back in the laboratory with no structured guidance. The class is also expanding to include a plant biology section, where students will test the affects on growth and safety of plants grown in leaded soil. This experiment will allow students to provide proof to homeowners as to which plants are healthy to eat and which can be used for phytoremediation. In addition to feeling like active contributors to the community, the students and homeowners have been interviewed and photographed for an article detailing lead contamination issues.
Chichester, Kimberly D.; Dugan, Colleen; Lewis, Amanda; Herman, Maryann; and Kimaru, Irene, "Utilizing Service Learning in the Analytical Chemistry Classroom" (2010). Chemistry Faculty Publications. Paper 11.
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