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Westminster College Receives Grant from American Chemical Society

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Posted on Monday, November 25, 2013

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - The Westminster College student chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS) was recently awarded an Inter-Chapter Relations Grant for the 2013-2014 academic year.

The grant is for a collaborative project between Westminster, Seton Hill College and Allegheny College to create hands-on chemistry experiment kits to send to Kalibu Academy High School in Malawi. Each chapter will be responsible for developing one kit, which will include equipment and disposables, along with the necessary reagents and safety equipment when appropriate.

The Malawi Project, as it is called, was originally developed through collaboration between Dr. Katherine Robertson, Westminster professor of biology; and Wezzie Osman, teacher of chemistry and general science at Kalibu Academy. Six biology kits have been sent to Malawi, which facilitated Osman's teaching of a variety of biology concepts. This includes the culture and identification of pathogenic microbes from local drinking water supplies, which led the Kalibu students to start outreach initiatives of their own by warning members of their community about the presence of E. coli in the local stream, which had been used as both a toilet and bathing area.

Dr. Sarah Kennedy, Westminster ACS chapter adviser, hopes the chemistry kits will yield similar results. "Kalibu Academy already teaches chemistry, but they struggle with the lack of funding and access to materials for hands-on laboratory experiences for their students," Kennedy said. "The goal is our chapters to work together to formulate ideas for suitable hands-on experiments, write high school friendly protocols, and assemble the materials required for the experiments into classroom kits for 30 students."

Kennedy continued, "We anticipate that our contribution to the project will not only increase collaboration between local ACS sections, but also will enhance our college students' consciousness of cultural diversity, improve education in another discipline (chemistry) for students at Kalibu Academy, and provide the students at the academy with the tools to educate and excite people in their own communities about environmental and applicable chemistry."

In addition to producing the kits, the grant requires that the three chapters submit a final report by June 2014 and they must either contribute to ACS's blog or write for inChemistry Magazine. Students also typically present research at the national ACS spring meeting.

Contact Kennedy at 724-946-6289 or email for more information.