University of Massachusetts Amherst
One of the fellows in our program taught middle school students in Western Massachusetts how to perform safe tests in the classroom that would identify the presence of chemical pollutants, such as arsenic, in their environments. Students collected water, soil, and wipes of wooden structures from their communities and tested the samples. Many found significant amounts of arsenic pollution in their environments, and developed their findings into researchable topics that were entered into local, state, and national science fairs. Four of the students entered their research projects into a national science fair sponsored by NOBCChE (National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers) and received first- and third-place trophies. The first-place project involved identifying common household items that can remove arsenic from drinking water. The third place project investigated the rate at which arsenic contamination travels in the soil due to different weather conditions. As a result of the outstanding accomplishments from the underrepresented students in this activity, the fellow who organized this project has applied for a community outreach position to continue to inspire other urban minority students to obtain similar outcomes.