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Training science teachers


Mickey Laux (AirUCI workshop organizer and chemistry professor at Orange Coast College:
Well, what we're doing, this is part of the AirUCI two-week summer institute. It's the outreach program that they do every year - try to take some of the high-level knowledge that they're learning at the University of California under the AirUCI program and get that out to the community through high school and junior high school teachers. And they get to learn every day different lectures from some of the experts in the industry here. And then that knowledge they take into the laboratory environment, and they get to run high-level instrumentation that some of these researchers are using and get some experience with that. Our goal is for them is to take all this knowledge, apply to the environment and atmospheric chemistry, bring it back to their classes and to their students.

Sergey Nizkorodov (AirUCI workshop organizer and UCI associate professor of chemistry): We wanted to have something that doesn't require a lot of money necessarily but has potentially a very large impact, because through teachers we affect all of the students. And, when you calculate how many students you're affecting, over several years it's a very large number.

Connie Boone (chemistry teacher at Duncan U. Fletcher High School in Neptune Beach, Fla.): I haven't been in a lab like this in years, so it's really been fun. The advances since I was in school are amazing.

Mickey Laux: You know, as a teacher, sometimes you go through it for years and not learn new stuff. Well, these are the excited teachers that take their summers to learn new things.

Paul Fang (science teacher at Valley Christian High School in Cerritos): I like to help my students to see the interactions between the different fields of science - for example, biology, chemistry and physics. And so, when you study atmospheric science, you see all those three sciences kind of interact with each other.

Tran Nguyen (UCI graduate student in chemistry): Right now we're using high-pressure or high-performance liquid chromatography to separate out a lot of the compounds that are in cigarette smoke - lots of bad, gross stuff. I could show you; it's very brown and it smells bad.

Mickey Laux: Most people in their lives never get to see a laser, let alone operate some of the biggest baddest bad daddies of lasers. And so they're using that to blast into different materials like lithium ion batteries. We're looking through pieces of coal to monitor the composition of those.

Richard Barrington (science teacher at Lexington Junior High School in Cypress): Put a hole in a lithium battery, a penny right through its head. And then different elements like titanium, copper, lead, zinc. I thought it was pretty cool, putting holes in things - pretty awesome.

Connie Boone: The thing I'm really excited about is to tell my students there's something out there besides being a doctor. All my students come to me, and if they are proficient in science and math, they want to be doctors. And there's so much more out there than just the health services. Now health service fields are important, but there is so much more out there; and I'm excited to take this back to them.