Seventh grade science students from Columbus Community Schools recently visited the University of Iowa Superfund Research Program (ISRP) science and engineering laboratories for a three-hour interactive tour.
Because the overall theme of the ISRP is the consequences of atmospheric sources and exposures to semi-volatile polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), students learned about the toxicity of PCBs, airborne sampling techniques used to measure PCBs in the air, and how ISRP scientists are removing PCBs from the environment.
The tour is hosted by the ISRP Community Outreach Core to improve scientific literacy and increase awareness of health science and engineering projects. PCB contamination from industrial sources in the area is a potential community health issue. Increasing student knowledge of the health effects and possible exposure routes of the contamination is also helping to address community concerns regarding PCBs.
The annual tour involved approximately 60 students, four teachers, and 15 ISRP faculty and staff. Janice Rutt, a Columbus Community Middle School science teacher, commented on how well her students were engaged during the tour and how students who visited years before still talk about their University of Iowa field trip. The ISRP also visits Rutt’s school every fall to teach eight grade science students about PCBs.