Journal of Chemical Education
American Chemical Society
This paper describes a problem-based chemistry education model in which students perform scientific research on a local environmentally relevant problem. The project is a collaboration among The University of Montana and local high schools centered around Missoula, Montana. "Air Toxics under the Big Sky" involves high school students in collecting air samples inside and outside their homes within and near Missoula. As part of this program, teachers, students, and university researchers investigate the relationship between air pollutants and their harmful respiratory effects. Students experience scientific research, use scientific equipment, gain an insight into the relationship between the environment and public health, and develop scientific hypotheses. UM benefits by having a "pipeline" of high school students, several of whom participated in the program while in high school and now attend UM. The local community benefits from the work students and university researchers have done producing high-quality data that are being used in a tracking database for respiratory disease in western Montana. Student research efforts have culminated in three annual symposia that allowed students to present their results at a public forum.
©2008 American Chemical Society