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Marine Chemistry for Middle Schoolers

Release Date: April 20, 2018

Cora Zaletel

Executive Director, External Affairs

Colorado State University-Pueblo


CSU–Pueblo’s chemistry department provides Earth Day celebration for middle schoolers

Colorado State University-Pueblo’s chemistry department will host “Earth Day 2018: Dive into Marine Chemistry” on Thursday, May 10, for Pueblo middle school students. The day of learning includes a rotation of activities on a wide variety of topics concerning marine chemistry, incorporating demonstrations, lectures, hands-on activities and lunch provided for all students.

The theme of the day’s events, Dive into Marine Chemistry, was selected as the nationwide theme for Earth Day by the American Chemical Society. The CSU-Pueblo chemistry department is expecting about 100 students from five local middle schools: Pueblo Academy of the Arts, Heaton, Risley, Roncalli, and Fowler.

Hosting Earth Day is an opportunity for the faculty in the department and student volunteers to engage in an outreach activity that impacts the local community and combines their passions of education and chemistry, while using the facilities and resources available at CSU-Pueblo. The schedule for the day goes as follows:

  • Check-in 8 -8:30 a.m.: CHEM 104
  • Opening Introductions 8:30-8:45 a.m.: CHEM 104
  • Rotation 1 (Ocean Acidification) 8:50-9:35 a.m.: Dr. David Boston – CHEM 204. Students will explore how increasing carbon dioxide concentrations affect seawater and life that resides in it. Students will create a carbon dioxide generator that will be used to dissolve carbon dioxide in water. They will examine how bubbling carbon dioxide through the water changes the pH and how this acidity affects animals that make shells and homes from calcium carbonate.
  • Rotation 2 (Oh buoyancy! The effect of salt in the ocean and other waters) 9:40-10:25 a.m.: Dr. Sandra Bonetti and Dr. David Dillon – CHEM 223. Activities will focus on the effect of salts on marine and other environments. We will explore principles such as miscibility of different liquids in mixtures, densities of different solution to model oil spills in the oceans, and salinity changes in oceans and other aquatic environments.
  • Rotation 3 (Why Dead Sea is called ‘Dead’?) 10:30-11:15 a.m.: Dr. Indrani Bhowmick – CHEM 313. Students will learn about the ocean of difference between saltwater and freshwater. They will experiment with osmosis to find out why fish from saltwater will not survive in freshwater and vice versa. They also will learn about the salt content of ocean water is not uniform and how that affects the marine life. And ultimately students will understand why the Dead Sea does not have any fish.
  • Rotation 4 (A Song of Fire and Metal) 11:20 a.m.-12:05 p.m.: Dr. Jonathon Velasco – CHEM 408. Students will learn about the principles behind spectroscopy and explore it through flame tests and spectrophotometry. They will then apply these methods by identifying metals present in a sample of water.
  • Lunch 12:10-1 p.m.: Dr. Richard Farrer – Demonstrations, Closing Statements, Pizza from the Chemistry Department

“We hope the day will stimulate local students to think a little deeper about the role of chemistry in the world around them,” said Chemistry Professor and Department Chair Chad Kinney. “If  participation in these type of activities encourages young students to consider a STEM discipline as a future major as a college or university student, then that is a great outcome as well.”

“This is a great opportunity as chemists and educators to expose students at an early stage of their education in the sciences to the broader role that chemistry plays in the world around them,” he said.

For more information, contact Kinney at

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