The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Great Lakes Protection Fund has approved a $45,000 grant to the Tri-County Intermediate Unit to implement a Microscale Chemistry project in the Lake Erie Watershed. The grant will be used to expand the use of microscale chemistry equipment in school labs as a means to prevent pollution in the watershed. DEP Office of Pollution Prevention and Compliance Assistance Program Manager Brad Vanderhoof encouraged school laboratories to try alternative lab equipment that uses less hazardous chemicals like the kind being used at Strong Vincent High School in Erie.
“We have collected hundreds of pounds of hazardous, unwanted chemicals from school labs in recent years with the goal of improving safety for students and staff and protecting the environment,” Vanderhoof said. “Today’s experiment using microscale equipment illustrates that large amounts of chemicals are not necessary for students to successfully learn scientific principles. Experiments using microscale equipment use fewer chemicals, generate less waste, and are safer because the user is exposed to fewer hazardous chemicals.”
In addition, the grant will support the collection and analysis of environmental samples by students in participating schools. This assessment information will be shared with local watershed groups. The demonstration project began with Strong Vincent High School in Erie. Great Lakes Protection Fund grants are available for environmental education, research, and outreach in the Lake Erie Basin.