Posted by: unlikelygrad | October 28, 2010

UnlikelyGrad does outreach

On Monday I visited a homeschool science club in Boulder to talk about some cool science.

The kids had previously done a couple of projects with electrochemistry. I wanted to talk about something from the “real world” that was related, so I talked about acid mine drainage, which is a serious problem here in Colorado.

First we talked about the lessons learned from their previous experiments–namely, that if neutral metals lose electrons, they can go into solution. We talked about pyrite and how, when it’s exposed to water and oxygen, it makes Fe(II) and sulfuric acid; about how things react more quickly when crushed into small pieces (obviously, something that had to be demonstrated); and how metals behave when exposed to acid.

My goals when I go to do outreach are always two-fold: (1) to get the kids excited about science, and (2) to help them see that science isn’t just a school subject, it’s something applicable to the world around them. I sure hope I succeeded.

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Responses

  1. Y’know, I can’t think of any mining operation that isn’t fraught with safety risks and environmental problems. (My family is from the coalfields…) Wish it were possible to develop better methods for the industry–it certainly isn’t going away anytime soon.


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