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Chemists share green chemistry best practices

Under the tutelage of Department of Chemistry Professor Jane Wissinger, chemistry undergraduate students Aaron Johnson, Richard Harris and Ming Yu, who all want to be chemistry high school teachers, recently participated in the Education Minnesota professional development conference for K-12 educators. This year, the MN Green Chemistry Forum organized two sessions aimed at sharing green chemistry ideals and curriculum materials for the chemical sciences classroom.  

During the first session, Wissinger and Professor Paul Jackson from St. Olaf College presented a seminar with background information on and resources for green chemistry materials. The chemistry undergraduate students provided hands-on demonstrations of green experiments illustrating sustainable polymers, the use of a potato enzyme for hydrogen peroxide decomposition, and liquid CO2 extraction from orange peel.  

The second session, sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Sustainable Polymers, including Jennifer Henderson, its director of Education, Outreach and Diversity, and the Department of Chemistry, featured a seminar presentation by Amy Cannon, Ph.D., co-founder and executive director of Beyond Benign from Boston.

The teachers attending this session said that the undergraduate students’ presentations involving the use of liver enzymes and pixie sticks to illustrate endothermic and exothermic reactions, bioplastics from starches, and a starch/iodine equilibrium demonstrations were informative and engaging.

Chemistry undergraduate student Ming Yu showed K-12 grade educators how to make a medical suture thread from a biodegradable polymer. Additional photos are available on the Department of Chemistry Facebook page.

A blog about this has been posted on the Minnesota Green Chemistry Forum website.