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Siena Hosts Annual Green Chemistry Institute

Siena Hosts Annual Green Chemistry Institute

Thursday, July 16, 2015

By Julia Hess '15

Siena College recently hosted its third annual Green Chemistry Summer Institute. This free three day workshop brings together more than a dozen high school chemistry teachers from all over New York to participate in discussions and hands-on experiments to broaden their knowledge of Green Chemistry.

Run by Siena College chemistry professor Lucas Tucker, Ph.D. and chemical hygiene officer Ann Klotz, the program teaches educators how to create labs that are safe for the environment as well as for the participants. Tucker believes that the Green Chemistry Summer Institute is creating a network of positive change without altering the core of what chemistry is really about.

Brynda Shultes from Greenville High School attended the workshop for the first time in 2014 after realizing that she wanted to put more of her own ideas into the chemistry curriculum her school already had developed. Over the course of the year, Shultes implemented many of her own Green Chemistry labs. She brought them to this year's institute to review with her fellow educators.

"One of the biggest benefits of this program is being able to network with other chemistry teachers, to share ideas," she said. "But with this program you spread a very important message in terms of why Green Chemistry should be the future of chemistry. The more people you get together, the more networks that can be formed to help spread the word."

Amsterdam High School Chemistry teacher Sharon Trova already had a strong believe in the Green Chemistry movement when she attended the workshop her first year. She returned this year to share her passion for Green Chemistry with fellow educators.

"In my first year at the program I thought that it was very helpful to have people who were actually teaching these practices in the classroom telling us their experiences," she said.

Trova became that example for others while working as an experiment leader during this year's program.

The Green Chemistry Summer Institute is the result of a partnership between the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the Department of Education (DOE) and Siena College. Sharlin Liu, a representative the DEC believes that because of Siena's facilities and resources, it is the ideal place to help the Green Chemistry movement expand.

"This is the most efficient way to bring Green Chemistry to the classroom. As an agency, we cannot do that. Siena College is the bridge between the idea and actually putting the practices into the high school classrooms."