Down the Drain
In this project, 10th grade chemistry students will complete guided scientific research as a whole class on what goes “Down the Drain” and then design and carry out their own, more independent, research projects. A traditional activity in chemistry classes is to have students choose an element from the periodic table and research and report on its properties, uses, and applications. In order for students to practice being scientists, they will be collecting and analyzing data on their elements and addressing real world issues. The class will team up with the University of Utah and the Salt Lake City Water Reclamation Facility to assess the impacts that Salt Lake residents and businesses have on the water that goes “Down the Drain” and ultimately into the Great Salt Lake.
Using a mass spectrometer and ion chromatograph, classes will collect data on over 60 elements and ions in water samples including tap water and water before and after treatment at the reclamation plant. The ICP mass spectrometer data will come from a University of Utah research lab and students will prepare, test, and correct the data. The Ion Chromatograph is a student lab at the University which results in data that is not as high quality, but allows the students the valuable experience of making their own standard solutions and calibrations curves and analyzing the quality of the data.
Students not only research the uses, sources, and abundance of their element, but they also analyze their elements impact on our waterways and present the finding of their research during a poster session with community members, University students and professors, civil engineering professionals, and other students. The project has added importance now as the Great Salt Lake is drying up, and contributing to dust storms that threaten our city. Air pollution impacts such as this disproportionately impact minority and lower income residents on Salt Lake’s lower income west side, where our school is located and where most of our students are from.
Students pick their own research project to investigate and with much mentoring and guidance complete a science fair style project. 100 10th grade students will present their individual research at the Down the Drain poster session and at the end of the school year.
The grant will cover fees for 12 uses of the university equipment and some support for lab equipment and supplies. Other support will be obtained to cover field trip transportation and additional lab costs.