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Department of Chemistry and Physics Hosts Workshop for Local High School Students

Local high school students participate in a lab at Belmont“This is a great product for any family who wants a cheap substitute for mainstream brands with picky kids…Bringing comfort back to your life!” These are just a few of the catchy slogans students from Stewarts Creek High School developed during “Back Titrations:  Neutralizing Agents – How Basic is It?,” a guided inquiry workshop for Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry high school students recently held at Belmont University.

Event organizer Dr. Danielle Garrett, assistant professor of chemistry education, held a half-day workshop in Belmont’s organic and advanced chemistry labs for 30 AP chemistry students from Stewarts Creek.  After an interactive discussion on neutralization reactions, acid-base indicators and titrations, students determined the effectiveness of commercial products used to reduce stomach acid. After collecting and analyzing their data, groups created persuasive brochures, marketing the most effective neutralizing agent. Students then toured the labs, ate lunch and visited The Belmont Store.

Dr. Thom Spence, dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics, and Tyra Avery, rising senior chemistry major, helped with the workshop. This fall, Avery will do her senior research with Garrett, working to develop green laboratory options for the high school chemistry classroom. “I’m glad Tyra was able to volunteer for this outreach event,” Garrett said. “Seeing students work in the lab, engaging with the students and answering their questions help provide a unique perspective on the intentional planning that must go into developing articulate, coherent and comprehensive laboratory instructions for students.”

Garrett also said she looks forward to continuing these workshops for local schools. “Putting a guided-inquiry spin on the labs gives students the opportunity not only to get excited about science but to explore their creativity through scientific analysis. The students at Stewarts Creek took this creativity to heart and developed some very compelling marketing lines to promote their experimental results,” Garrett said.