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Chemistry Students Present Results of Service Learning Project for Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition

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Posted on Friday, November 17, 2017

Seven Westminster College chemistry and biochemistry majors presented the results of a service-learning project at a meeting of the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition (SRWC) on Oct. 12 at the Jennings Environmental Education Center.

The project was completed as part of an advanced laboratory class and mentored by Dr. Helen Boylan, Westminster professor of chemistry. They collaborated with the SRWC to test the passive water treatment system for treating abandoned mine drainage at the DeSale Restoration Area Phase I site in Butler County.

As part of the five-week project, students studied background literature on abandoned mine drainage, went on a field trip to the sites to do field tests of the water and collect water samples, and used standard methods to analyze various water quality parameters in the lab setting.

“Not only did this project teach us how to create our own methods, it taught us how to use new instruments that are widely used in the field of chemistry,” said student Matt Ford.

Students presented results of the field and lab tests at the SRWC meeting. Their findings confirm that the passive treatment site is working well. Through this collaboration, the SRWC was able to obtain lab-quality data on its passive treatment sites that the non-profit organization would not otherwise be able to afford.

"Despite the rainy weather and attack by yellow jackets, the students were able to use the chemistry that they are learning in the classroom in a real-world scenario,” Boylan said.

Contact Boylan at 724-946-6293 or email for additional information.