"We worked directly with the scientists at Brookhaven Lab to identify the kit concepts," said Scott Bronson, an education coordinator in the Laboratory's Office of Educational Programs who turned the concepts into the educational kits. "The kits provide a context for teaching scientific principles, and with the materials and instruction provided, students can perform experiments themselves. Hundreds of students participating in educational programs at Brookhaven tested the kits before they were marketed."
Students can learn about environmental chemistry by using two kits that are based on a green-chemistry process invented by Brookhaven Lab scientists. The kits include all naturally occurring materials -- citric acid, common soil, and benign bacteria -- to remove metal contaminants from soil. Using the kit, students can safely extract iron, used as a model for a metal contaminant, from soil using citric acid, the same acid that is present in citrus fruit. With the aid of another kit, they can then use harmless bacteria to remove the iron from solution, a process called bioremediation. The same processes are potential solutions for cleanup of industrial sites around the world.
Brookhaven Lab's A.J. Francis, one of the supporting researchers for the environmental chemistry kits, noted that he was "excited that students are able to learn some of the basic concepts involved in bioremediation of contaminated sites by replicating some of our research in the classroom."