Green & Sustainable Chemistry Workshop for High School Teachers

The Center for Sustainable Polymers (CSP) in partnership with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) will be offering a FREE three-day workshop (June 20–22, 2017) at the University of Minnesota to high school chemistry teachers on green and sustainable chemistry. The workshop will be hosted by CSP Investigator Professor Jane Wissinger (UMN Chemistry), Cassandra Knutson (MRSEC-RET, White Bear Lake High School), and Cassidy Javner (MRSEC-RET, Shakopee High School). Applicants from across the state of Minnesota are welcome.  Travel grants are available only for state of Minnesota teachers.

Participating teachers will receive instruction on the principles of green chemistry, industrial applications, and potential impacts to human health and the environment. Shared lesson plans will illustrate how green and sustainable practices apply to secondary chemistry classrooms with education standards in mind. Participants will gain hands-on experience with safer, cost-effective labs that minimize waste and are drop-in replacements for traditional secondary chemistry labs. Topics such as bioplastics, polymeric medical sutures and use of biomimicry will be explored demonstrating relevance to societal needs. Participants will partner with the workshop instructors and one another to develop or modify experiments for use in their classroom. Upon returning to their respective high schools during the 2017-2018 academic year, participants are committed to implement at least two green chemistry experiments that they explored or developed at the workshop in their classrooms.

Participating teachers will receive a $300.00 stipend and potentially the option to earn 2 graduate level credits from the Colorado School of Mines (CSM). Participants will also receive resources for lab implementation in their classrooms. Accommodations and parking at the University of Minnesota will be provided for traveling participants. Lunch will be provided each day to all participants.

If you are interested in applying for the June 20–22, 2017 workshop, please use fill out the Workshop Application Applications are due March 1st, 2017.

For questions contact Professor Jane Wissinger — jwiss@umn.edu.

Illinois poised to require lead testing in public schools, day care centers

Read the full story in Politico.

Illinois public schools and licensed daycare facilities will be required to test drinking water for lead contamination under a major compromise reached by key stakeholders, parties involved in the deal told POLITICO Illinois.

12,000 U.S. schools are within a mile of a hazardous chemical facility. What should we do about that?

Read the full story in Ensia.

In the absence of a federal U.S. policy for schools located near potentially dangerous sites, community activists search for safer solutions.

New Tool Provides Interactive Map of Oregon Schools, Easy Access to School Drinking Water Test Data

State health and education officials have launched a database for accessing water test results for lead in Oregon schools. The tool provides an interactive map of Oregon and displays results for individual school buildings across the state.

The mapping tool acts as a one-time source for sharing information as schools transition from providing individual test results on their websites to submitting Healthy and Safe School Facilities plans to the Oregon Department of Education in 2017. It is scheduled to remain online until the end of the current 2016-17 school year and is not intended to replace communication with school staff or administrators. Parents and others should direct questions about testing results to their local district.

“Our schools are a launch pad for learning and development, which is why healthy schools are critical to supporting the well-being of Oregon children,” said Lillian Shirley, the director of the Public Health Division at the Oregon Health Authority. “This tool allows us to share preliminary school lead in water results clearly, and reflects our commitment to transparency.”

With increased attention to lead in water in Oregon’s public school facilities, Governor Kate Brown last spring requested that OHA and ODE review existing state programs and create a plan to address lead in school water and other environmental concerns.

“This database is an accessible and transparent resource for augmenting information that school districts are already sharing with their communities,” said Rick Crager, ODE assistant superintendent of finance and administration.

Curtis Cude, OHA’s environmental public health surveillance program manager agreed.

“We expect a range of community members, whether parents, school staff, or state officials, will be interested in learning more about the challenges and opportunities experienced by local schools,” Cude said.

Cude said state officials acknowledge that lead testing data is technical and can be difficult to understand, so in addition to a navigable map, they are providing a FAQ to help translate and decipher testing results and a video tutorial for how to use the map.

Since spring 2016 state officials have launched a series of strategies to address environmental public health challenges in Oregon schools. While state agencies do not have statutory authority to mandate testing for lead in school drinking water, it has been strongly recommended that all schools test their facilities.

Lesson Plan: Progressive City Planners

Grade levels: 3-5, 6-9
Download the plan at http://www.tolerance.org/lesson/progressive-city-planners

Environmental and civil rights activists discovered more than two decades ago that, in comparison with affluent white communities, people of color and working-class communities are disproportionately subjected to toxic waste, resource depletion, waste disposal sites, pollution of air and water, and natural disasters. (See Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty 1987—2007 for an in-depth analysis.)

Day One of this lesson will introduce students to the ways in which people of color often suffer disproportionately from environmental burdens. Day Two empowers students by asking them to propose solutions to issues of environmental racism.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency offers grant to support green chemistry intern

The MPCA is offering a grant to support an intern at a Minnesota facility undertaking a green chemistry and engineering-related project next summer (2017).

See https://www.pca.state.mn.us/waste/grant-connect-ecology for a summary of this past summer’s intern project.

  • The host companies benefited with initial product designs and comparisons of greener and more sustainable materials for prototypes.
  • The intern added experience in product design within a company’s decision making context, and is using that experience in her new job!

While eligible companies may be headquartered outside the state, the work much take place in Minnesota.  One grant of up to $9,500 will be awarded to the applicant best meeting MPCA’s criteria.

MPCA will recruit recent college grads with science, technology, engineering or math backgrounds for the successful company to interview in early 2017.

More information and application materials are available on this MPCA web page: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/waste/green-and-safer-product-chemistry-grants.

Questions may only be addressed to p2.pca@state.mn.us; answers will be posted on the web page above.

The deadline for applications is January 13, 2017, at 2:00 Central time.

Chicago teens explore climate resilience

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Chicago high school students will soon be projecting environmental data onto a large globe thanks to a half million dollar federal grant received by the city’s Museum of Science and Industry.

It’s part of a program to help them visualize, understand and respond to climate change. The museum recently received an Environmental Literacy Grant for the climate change awareness project, called Teen Advocates for Community and Environmental Sustainability, or Teen ACEs.