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Washington College students teach green chemistry at high school

Kent County News

January 24, 2018


Through a new collaboration, Washington College (WC) chemistry students are teaming up with Kent County High School to teach the basic principles of green chemistry and the dangers of harsh chemicals getting into the environment.

Last year, Anne Marteel-Parrish, professor of chemistry and co-chairwoman of the college’s Department of Chemistry, approached the science teachers at KCHS about introducing their students to green chemistry, according to news release from the college. The introduction would occur through a series of four experiments, which she and her undergraduates would present.

The high school teachers gave her a thumbs-up to the idea and she worked with them to develop four experiments that complemented what their students were already learning.

WC senior Alex Riedel, a biology major who is pre-med, would help the students through a variety of green chemistry experiments. One such experiment included testing how well a coarse model of a material called Sharklet film can hold onto a Post-It note as small binder clips are attached to it.

The broader technology they are learning about — Sharklet — is a product that mimics on a molecular level the skin of a shark, enabling it to easily repel germs and bacteria from surfaces without the use of chemicals.

In this lab, it is giving Marteel-Parrish and her students a chance to introduce the high school students to several concepts related to her expertise: green chemistry and engineering.

“Green chemistry is all about trying to prevent pollution before it’s formed,” Marteel-Parrish said to the students during her introduction.

While using chemical-based cleaners may purge a surface of germs or bacteria, those chemicals enter humans and the environment, causing all sorts of unintended consequences.

Through green chemistry, she said, “We are trying to design everyday products so they don’t harm the environment or people.”