First-year college/elementary school collaboration to map lead in soils from vehicle emissions while considering the social impact of leaded fuels

CHED 1528

Hal Van Ryswyk, Hal_VanRyswyk@hmc.edu1, G. William Daub, bill_daub@hmc.edu1, Patricia Holbrook, pholbroo@chsmail.claremont.edu2, Michael W. Daub, michael.w.daub@williams.edu3, Jeffrey D. Rubinstein1, David K. Hill1, Christopher M. Stanisky1, J. Christopher Thomas, chris_thomas@hmc.edu1, and Gerald R. Van Hecke1. (1) Department of Chemistry, Harvey Mudd College, 301 Platt Blvd., Claremont, CA 91711, (2) Vista del Valle Elementary School, 500 Vista Drive, Claremont, CA 91711, (3) Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267
We have implemented a laboratory experience wherein roughly 200 first-year undergraduates work with fifth and sixth grade students at Title I schools to map the distribution of lead in soil from vehicle emissions within their community. During the collaboration the college students deliver lessons in mathematics and science tied to state standards, educate the elementary students regarding the hazards of lead poisoning, and guide sample collection. The college students then conduct the soil analysis and consider the social impact of leaded fuels in their community. The two groups meet again to review and graph the results. Internet-based video conferencing, webcams, and email allow for interaction between the two groups between face-to-face meetings. The products of the collaboration are a GIS-quality map of the surface soil lead content across the public school grounds and adjacent park, individual hands-on, hypothesis-driven science projects with a significant mentor-reviewed writing component for each elementary school student, and, among the college students, informed individual and group positions on the social responsibility of scientists and engineers for the uses society makes of their work. The elementary school students and their teachers report this to be an engaging way to learn science and mathematics while being supported by role models. The college students report significant enhancements in their understanding of the impact of chemistry outside of the classroom and on their ability to engage issues of public policy from a perspective informed by chemical science.