2011 Awardees for ACS-CEI Incorporation of Sustainability into Chemistry Education
Awardee presentations from the Sustainability Education Award Symposium at the 2011 Spring National Meeting in Anaheim, CA.
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Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, SUNY Oneonta
“Green” imine synthesis: An authentic research experience for sophomore organic chemistry
Many biologically important compounds contain nitrogen, yet there are few sophomore-level organic laboratory experiments that form nitrogen-containing products. Fewer yet are experiments that allow each student in a course to synthesize a unique compound, especially via an environmentally friendly synthetic method. This talk describes a project where 76 students in a first-semester organic course synthesized 76 different imines, analyzed them using standard techniques, evaluated their fluorescence, and then screened each compound for antibacterial activity. The imines were synthesized using a “green” method that is faster, requires less energy, produces less waste, yet still results in comparable or improved yield and purity as that of previously published methods. Students use Chemspider, a structure-searchable open-access resource, to locate primary literature, which they then compare with their synthesis to evaluate the relative “greenness” of each method. Students ultimately learn that a “green” synthetic method can be a superior synthetic method.
Beyond Benign staff will share the story of the development of Green Chemistry curriculum for middle school and high school classrooms and how each concept is taught through the lens of sustainability where environmental issues and solutions are weighed by students in conjunction with economic realities and social equity concerns. Beyond Benign will also highlight the availability of these resources to all educators through an open source website as well as discuss success stories from the over 5000 educators already impacted and plans to begin offering online workshops in order to accelerate impact.
This presentation covers development and impact of green laboratory experiments within the University of Toronto undergraduate chemistry curriculum and beyond. Since 2004, seven procedures have been designed and published in pedagogical journals that focus on several sustainability principles: low-solvent or solventless reactivity, water as a reaction medium, energy efficiency, organocatalysis, phase-transfer catalysis and transition-metal catalysis. These principles are showcased in the context of synthesizing “real-world relevant” compounds: e.g. a sunscreen analog, a vasodilatory calcium-channel blocker and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory analog. The experiments have been incorporated into our second- and third-year organic courses and have been adopted at many other institutions around the world – including at the ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy (held annually for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars). Creation of both a catalytic organic chemistry course and a unique Synthetic and Catalytic Chemistry undergraduate program, which reinforce many aspects of green chemistry, will also be discussed.
Whether recycling mercury-containing compact florescent bulbs or substituting organic dyes for heavy metal pigments in paints, green chemistry practices are critical features of a sustainable economy. Given green chemistry’s central role, it is vital that all science students have a thorough exposure to green chemistry concepts. An ideal venue for implementing this is the gateway General Chemistry laboratory course. At the University of Oregon, General Chemistry students perform experiments that are procedurally green as they learn about the associated green chemistry and sustainability principles. Teaching green chemistry alternatives to students with minimal chemistry knowledge presents unique challenges that will be addressed in this talk, as well as techniques and strategies we’ve employed in greening our General Chemistry laboratory.
Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chair, Chemistry Department, Washington College
Environmentally friendly scientists and educators are increasingly conscious about the need to make chemistry more sustainable. A course titled “Green and Sustainable Chemistry” is taught at Washington College, Chestertown, MD every other Spring semester. The goal of this course is to present a different perspective regarding chemistry and its applications in academia and industry worldwide. This course covers both the theoretical and practical aspects of green and sustainable chemistry. The introduction includes the foundations of green chemistry and sustainability as well as a description of the tools and principles it employs. Evaluation of methods and tools in designing environmentally benign reactions and chemicals as well as real-world examples are used to illustrate the goals of green chemistry. Throughout this class students have the opportunity to enhance their writing and oral presentation skills, improve their critical thinking aptitude and work on their communication and discussion abilities.
The title of this talk comes from a visit I unexpectedly made last January to Theodore Roosevelt Island, a 90-acre preserve in Washington, DC. The encounters with those whom I met on the island allowed me to reflect not only on my many years of work with Chemistry in Context, a project of the American Chemical Society, but also on the challenges that we and our students face in our world today. In this presentation, I will speak to these challenges, pointing out ways to get a better match between our students, our first-year chemistry courses, and the planet.