Will Lynch

AASU Receives $192,595 for Green Labs

(October 29, 2009) Freshman chemistry labs at Armstrong Atlantic State University are going green next year thanks to a $192,595 grant from the National Science Foundation.

The project, "Guiding General Chemistry Laboratory Toward a Green Revolution: An Inquiry Approach," is designed to involve freshmen taking general chemistry in group problem solving on current issues related to the environment.

Will Lynch, chemistry and physics department head and principal investigator on the grant, said, "This grant will take our students beyond short 'cookbook labs' where they mix a few chemicals together and observe the reaction to longer collaborations on relevant 'green' issues."

Currently, individual students perform 15 lab experiments over a 15-week semester. Under the "guided inquiry" method being adopted, they will form teams of four with each team given a project and a question to solve over four weeks. Each team determines its own way to solve the problem by selecting from methodologies introduced in lectures. Teams will solve four to five problems each semester.

Lynch said, "We are reinventing what students do in the laboratory and encouraging them to succeed. By engaging them in more challenging activities, we hope some will be motivated to continue their scientific studies."

"One important aspect of green chemical principles," Lynch noted, "is to reduce waste streams generated by laboratories. This project will have the added benefit of changing the labs to be more 'green' thus limiting waste and saving the department money in cleanup and disposal costs."

In the 2010 fall semester, students will work on the refinement of ores, soil and water analysis, the synthesis of nanoparticles and biodiesel. During the spring 2011 semester they will work on acid rain, fuel cells, air pollution and environmental research.

Co-principal investigators on the grant are Todd Hizer, Lea Padgett, Cathy MacGowan, Josh Smith and Eric Werner.

For more information visit www.armstrong.edu.