The Angelo State University ACS Student Chapter was established in 1971. The chapter was awarded their first green chemistry award for the 2008-9 academic year, and they have now received it for nine consecutive years. Recently, we asked the chapter to tell us more about what they are doing and what they have learned from including green chemistry in their chapter activities.
To choose green chemistry activities, we have sought information from the ACS and ACS Green Chemistry Institute® Websites. One resource we found helpful that is available on the ACS website is the ACS Green Student Chapter Activity: Chemistry Demonstrations. We also network with other student chapters at the National ACS Meeting and make sure to go the Chem Demo Exchange held there. We have also found other online resources, but we review all new demos carefully. Using new demos takes practice and planning. Depending on where we do the demo, we have to modify the activity for safety and time constraints.
We also bring in green chemistry speakers to educate students on our campus about green chemistry. The ACS GCI website is a helpful resource for green chemistry speaker ideas. One of our former students discussed a chemical treatment method that allowed for the reuse of water used for fracking. As we are in West Texas, water is a major issue. The newspaper always lists the months of our water supply. In our chemistry laboratories, we have made the effort to conserve water as much as possible by reducing the volumes used in experiments. We also have changed several of our laboratories to use greener reagents. This is also a cost saving measure. Nontoxic reagents cost less to ship to us when purchased and also to dispose of after use. Overall, our chapter tries to promote a general mindfulness of the Principles of Green Chemistry.
Mr. Kevin Boudreaux, Senior Instructor, ASU ACS Student Chapter Co-Advisor, Permian Basin Local Section Secretary
Being involved with Green Chemistry activities as a faculty sponsor has made me more aware of the need to make lab procedures and demonstrations greener. I have been able to replace some of the chemistry labs that I teach with labs that generate less waste, and I have worked out procedures for some other labs that allow them to be performed on a smaller scale, thus saving not only on waste, but also on the cost of the reagents and solvents. Our research into what qualifies a student chapter to be designated as a Green Chemistry chapter has made me pay more attention to my own work in the teaching labs, and made me conscious for the need to keep those activities green as well.
Whether it involves water soluble packing peanuts or a simple example of making biofuels, we try and plan our activities around large community events where we can promote chemistry to the masses. In our chapter, the Eco Fair and Family Day at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts provide the perfect backdrop for our events. Often our activities focus on elementary students to spark an interest in green applications at a young age.
Though finding and prepping green chemistry experiments have taught me a lot scientifically, the largest impact comes from the children we serve. It’s both rewarding and unexpected seeing their faces light up for concepts like waste removal and biofuels. No matter how advanced the subject, there is always a way to make science fun and relatable to children.
Sara Shirai, senior biology major, ASU ACS Chapter Vice President
When we choose and plan green chemistry activities we make sure they follow the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry. When we demonstrate green chemistry at community outreach events and people have positive reactions to certain demonstrations, we sometimes repeat them at the next outreach activities.
From our green chemistry activities I learned that it is important to reach out to the community to inform people about how green chemistry can impact the environment. When we were at a community outreach event demonstrating how starch packing peanuts can dissolve in water, many children were amazed and their parents also showed their interest. Bringing green chemistry into the public awareness can not only impact the environment, but it could also impact their lives.
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