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EPA Project Mercury Education
The EPA grant has generated a significant impact on the education of Native American Students in the state of North Dakota. North Dakota is one of the states with the highest percentage of Native Americans and reservations in the US. Currently, there are five Native American tribes in North Dakota. Each tribe has their own tribal college, high school and middle school. With the support of this EPA grant, our student team has designed a hands-on project for the qualitative detection of mercury in water based on colorimetric methods. The project is easy to be carried out by using a limited amount of chemicals and simple glassware and still interesting to the Native American high school and middle school students.
The presentation can be viewed HERE.
The experiment is about 2-hour long. We have also designed a presentation using Adobe Presenter to combine audio and visual to introduce the toxicity of mercury and the importance of the preservation of the natural water. The presentation was given at the beginning of the workshop. Afterwards, we demonstrated to the students how to do the experiment and the meaning of the results. Then, the Native American students formed teams to work on the experiment. Finally, we gave a survey to evaluate the effectiveness of our workshop.
Since Sept 2011, our student team started to travel to the five Native American tribes once a month during the weekends to host the project for the Native American high school and middle school students. The project was hosted in their local tribal colleges with the support of the tribal college science faculty members, high school and middle school science teachers, and the North Dakota EPSCoR Office.
A total of 50 Native American high school and middle school students have participated in our project. Many of the students and some of the teachers were not aware of the dangerous of mercury. Some students and teachers are exposed to mercury-containing products inside and outside of the schools. Our presentation makes them aware of the toxicity of mercury and its impact on our health. There were not many such opportunities for the students in their social activities around the area. We hope that education will make a significant impact on their lives. The middle school students also wrote about the presentation in their school newspaper. We were very encouraged by their writings because it showed how we could impact our young generation by a simple action of spreading the knowledge on Mercury toxicity. The sample of the article can be found below.