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Chemistry Professor Partnered with Wilmington Area High School Chemistry Teachers

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dr. Helen Boylan, Westminster College associate professor of chemistry, collaborated with Wilmington Area High School chemistry teachers Melissa Marsh and Abby Sarver as part of a pilot partnering program sponsored by the American Chemical Society.

The program, which ran through the 2010-2011 academic year, also provided a $500 science equipment grant to the high school.

During the spring semester, Boylan and students from her Chemical Analysis Class participated in a high school Chemistry I class.  Westminster students Thomas Dean, Stephanie Gasser, Kyle Gelesky, Matthew Perella, and Cory Seese worked with small groups of high school students on an in-class problem set involving balancing chemical reactions and stoichiometry (a branch of chemistry that deals with the application of the laws of definite proportions and of the conservation of mass and energy to chemical activity).

On May 17, 18 students from Sarver's Chemistry II class visited Westminster to perform an advanced laboratory experiment led by Boylan that used gas chromatography to analyze the ethanol content in gasoline.

"This collaboration has been a win-win situation," Boylan said.  "Westminster students were able to practice their skills by helping the high school students and the high school students learned what college chemistry is like."

Boylan, a 1995 Westminster graduate, earned a Ph.D. from Duquesne University and joined the Westminster faculty in 2001.

Contact Boylan at (724) 946-6293 or email boylanhm@westminster.edu for additional information.

Dr. Helen Boylan (l) and Abby Sarver supervise Wilmington Area High School student Catherine Foltz as she injects a sample into the gas chromatograph