Community Research Project: Ice Melt Alternatives

What was your driving question?

How might the STEM/PBL class research and develop an economical and environmental alternative to using Magnesium Chloride as a road treatment in Adams County in order to reduce its impacts on our vehicles and local ecosystem?

Grades Involved

9th, 10th, 11th, & 12th

What PBE principles were highlighted in this project?

Project Description

This project started with students researching what other scientists have learned about this topic and exploring what scientists know and what they don’t know. To do this, students were challenged to find peer-reviewed scientific research articles that explored any aspect of ice melt/snow removal (environmental impacts, transportation hazards/cost, researched alternatives, etc.). Then students were split into groups based on interest in the various topics of research and tasked with creating a mind-map to show what we learned and where we wanted to go next in terms of our own research question. Students were mostly interested in alternatives and spent most of their time designing experiments to test the effectiveness of various alternatives ranging from vinegar, beet juice, and sodium chloride.

 

 

How did this project connect to your local or regional community?

This project connects to our local and regional community by addressing an issue that students and community members often notice during the winters. The use of Magnesium Chloride on the roadways contributes to multiple problems, both environmental and economic. Students were seeking alternatives to Magnesium Chloride that were just as effective AND more sustainable to our community.

How did this positively impact the community? How was it shared?

This project is not completed yet, as we have not reached conclusions about which alternatives are the most effective and economically affordable. When this project is complete students will share with Adams County Commissioners and Idaho Department of Transportation using research papers and a presentation.

Reflection: What was the biggest challenge? What was the most rewarding aspect of this project?

The biggest challenge for this project was keeping students motivated to work on this long-term project. The most rewarding was watching students design an experiment and collect reliable and trustworthy data.

Any advice for a teacher or student that is implementing a PBE project for the first time?

Teach your student how to use a research database and how to refine their search text.

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