Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Project

Students from the instrumental analysis class at Trinity College are partnering with about 100 6th grade students from Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy to collect and analyze water samples from the Connecticut River watershed. In celebration of the 75-year history of the Division of Analytical Chemistry, this activity includes both classical wet analytical chemistry techniques (performed by the 6th graders) and advanced instrumental analysis (performed by the undergraduates).
This fall, the 6th grade students collected water samples from various locations in the Connecticut River watershed. In the spring semester, as a capstone project at the end of the 6th grade unit on water quality, the 6th grade students are performing water quality testing on their samples using a kit to measure levels of chlorine, iron, sulfate, nitrate/nitrite, as well as pH. The instrumental analysis students are guiding the 6th grade students through these tests and assisting them in selecting a subset of samples for trace metals determination by ICP-OES. The instrumental analysis students will then analyze selected samples for trace metals by ICP-OES. In lieu of a lab report, the instrumental analysis students will present their results, along with a grade-level appropriate explanation of ICP-OES, to the 6th grade students.

This project offers senior analytical chemistry students the opportunity to introduce the field of analytical chemistry and its environmental applications to a diverse group of local 6th graders, engaging undergraduates in experiential learning and community outreach.  In turn, the project’s activities complement the 6th grade science content standards on water quality, offer middle-school students an opportunity to learn and become comfortable in a college laboratory setting, and experience, firsthand, the impact of analytical chemistry.

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