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Cooking up green chemistry

DEC selects Schalmont High School as test site for initiative

Schalmont High School science teacher Adam Labuda, center, talks to DEC representatives helping conduct a chemical inventory at the school on Tuesday, Dec. 20.

Schalmont High School science teacher Adam Labuda, center, talks to DEC representatives helping conduct a chemical inventory at the school on Tuesday, Dec. 20. Photo by John Purcell.

— One of the green experiments includes using carbon dioxide generated from dry ice to extract oil from an orange peel. This process is also similar to what is done to naturally decaffeinate coffee, according to Knight.

Potter said one of the reasons Schalmont was selected is because the school isn’t able to dispose of any chemicals down the drain since it runs off a septic system.

“They are a perfect candidate to teach chemistry by using chemicals that are not as toxic,” she said. “They have to be very careful what they put down the drain — they have to dilute it or transport it off site.”

The chemical inventory on Dec. 20 is used to establish a baseline for the chemicals used in the classroom to see how much is being used during the year.

“We are trying to say, with green chemistry you don’t need to purchase such toxic chemicals, which tend to be very expensive,” said Knight. “Right now schools need to save as much money as they can.”

Potter said the number of chemicals Schalmont had in its lab was “average” and there wasn’t any “significant” findings among the jugs and jars of toxic materials tucked in between two classrooms.

Potter also said she hopes green chemistry will inspire children to become interested in chemistry. So far, her experience has shown it works.

“We need more children to go into chemistry … there is a lot of demand in terms of industry for this,” she said. “If you take away a lot of the concerns about teaching chemistry, the safety part … I think kids feel more comfortable and excited.”

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