EPSCoR - Montana NSF

High School Students Present Air Pollution Research
Air Pollution Research text_container

About 90 high school students gathered to present their research on air pollution at the Air Toxics Under the Big Sky Symposium. Using equipment purchased with Montana NSF EPSCoR dollars, the students measured levels of volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and PM2.5 in the air, both in and outside family homes and public buildings. The array of hypotheses focused on potential causes of the buildup of these toxins. Various comparisons were made, such as differing heating systems and new construction vs. older structures. The University of Montana faculty members, Dr. Tony Ward, research professor at the Center for Environmental Health Sciences and Dr. Earle Adams, Department of Chemistry, assisted and monitored the students’ research and were involved in the organization of the symposium. Two participants, Maura Mall and Kayla Nelson said that they really appreciated the ability to perform research and learn about equipment such as the gas chromatograph – mass spectrometer, opportunities most people don’t get until their junior year of college. Both plan to attend college in Montana as chemistry majors and Maura said, “...we’ll already be pros by the time we get there.” The symposium’s overall prize, a $150 gift certificate to the UM Bookstore, was determined by a panel of judges including: local television meteorologists, Russ Thomas and Mark Heyka, Montana Grizzlies’ football coach, Bobby Hauck, Missoula mayor, John Engen, (pictured in foreground above l-r), and Dr. Garon Smith, UM Department of Chemistry (pictured lower right).