Saturday, July 11, 2015

MoDRN day 5--research platform presentations

Our group discovered just what we expected.  Many companies market their products as green with labeling etc without actually having been held to any green standards.  The only products that have been tested to meet green chemistry standards are those with the EPA safer choice label.

So this last day of MoDRN at Baylor University was great.  All the groups worked on their platform presentations that morning and presented after lunch.  As far as the findings go, they were very interesting and unpredictable between product groups.  We found that the insect repellent marketed as green was indeed less toxic,  however, in the case of body wash green marketing did not exactly mean less toxic (to D.magna)
For example, we showed these two examples of product marketing and asked the audience to pick which one they would buy if they were looking for a green product.  Everyone chose Simple Green, however, Odoban actually has the EPA safer choice logo meaning that it has been tested and help to the EPA standards that the Simple Green may or may not meet.
So consumers beware.  The people who market items are sneaky smart and sometimes although they use naturally derived chemicals, those chemicals may be more toxic than their synthetic counterparts.
So how do we make informed safer choices?
  • Look for the safer choice label
  • Research the active/top 5 ingredients listed in the products you are thinking of buying and see what the MSDS or SDS sheets (available online) say about them
  • Don't fall for packaging or claims of 'natural' if there is no science to back it up
Next week we will be moving to the Baylor Research Innovation and collaboration center (BRIC), as well as the Waco Wetlands, and turning what we did in week 1 into useable lessons to take back into high schools.  Ill keep you posted!
Shout to to one of my students La Vega Early College High School students who took the extra credit opportunity and came to sit through all of the platform presentations.  He and his mom left far more enlightened about their household chemical purchases.
One really neat unexpected thing that has come of the platform presentations is my 9 year old daughter's new-found interest in green chemistry.  After sitting through 4 platform presentations she has approached me several times this weekend with products her fathers bought while grocery shopping and talked through her own hypotheses and experimental design. One in particular was a  I tank toilet bowl cleaner that claims to kill 98% of bacteria. She said, " Hey mom, look at this. It says it kills bacteria, I bet it would be toxic to Daphnia too!". How cool is that?!?!

I would have added photos but Blogger isn't cooperating tonight so I will try again later!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

MoDRN HS research project Day 4

So I will start today by reiterating how much of a blubbering goof I am. To begin with, I broke the salad tongs at lunch, apparently I do not know my own strength.  Then after halfway filling my soup bowl I dropped my entire bowl upside down back into the soup serving true colors are showing!  Then to top it all off--today I rocked a new Hawaiian style maxi dress that my husband picked up for me yesterday.  I did a double take in the mirror this morning and briefly thought the cut was kinda weird so I threw a cardigan over it and went about my day.  It was only after spending a full day with normal, legitimate, intellectual people that I realized I had gone ALL DAY with my fabulous new dress ON BACKWARDS!  Needless to say I AM RIDICULOUS!

Now, on with the science!

So today we began with a lecture over poster presentation and then had about 2 hours to begin working on data input using EXCEL and generating our platform presentations.
After my lunch shenanigans, we came back together in the lab for the last time to do our 48 hour data collections over the survival/morbidity rates of our Daphnia in their treatment solutions and the salt control.
After we were done in the lab, one of the PhD students held a lecture over how to use the TRAP program to calculate our Lc 50 values. These data points allow us to interpret toxicity of the 2 compounds.  We calculated Lc calculations for both substance A and substance B at 24 and 48 hours.
Our team worked through excel to generate 3 data tables that we will use in our final platform presentation AND then there was the great reveal of the 2 products we tested. 

I wont share that yet.  If you are curious you should come to BSB A436 tomorrow at 1 for the presentations.
Tonight my team split up some of the power point sections to work on as homework so that we can use our 3 hours before presentations tomorrow to clean it up, add photos and practice.  Excited with our results and excited to share what we found!
Title of presentation: Comparative Acute Toxicity of Green vs. Non-green Insect Repellents
Toxicity of consumer insect repellents to Daphnia magna over 24 and 48 hours

Compare green and non-green insect repellent toxicity levels

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

MoDERN HS Teacher Workshop days 1-3

So it hit me today in lab that I should be blogging about my experiences with MoDRN at Baylor University.  I am 3 days in but I will try to cover days 1-3 here and henceforth blog daily.
So back in the 2014 school year I applied for the MoDRN teacher lab experience and research opportunity with Baylor University, Yale and 2 schools out of Washington.  I was chosen for the program and started this Monday July 6, 2015.
Of course I can't just do something like this program gracefully and/or at 100% so for good measure I went ahead and sprained my ankle Thursday after the last day of ECHS at La Vega.  So I've been hopping around all week.  It honestly, other than being an annoyance, hasn't caused any issues for me.
Monday was spent predominately on paper work and background lectures with Dr. Brooks from the Environmental Science dept at Baylor.  Tuesday we began again with a short lecture and were divided up into our lab groups and assigned to our PhD students.  The jist of the project is focusing on green chemistry and specifically the differences in toxicity on daphnia (About Daphnia Video) for OTC household items labeled either 'green' or with no 'green' product labeling or claims.  The groups are blind to which product is labeled green and which product is not. The groups chose their specific product from either body wash, laundry detergent, bug repellant and one other that I cannot remember for the life of me.
My group chose bug repellant in hopes that we could see some really cool and marked results.
On Tuesday we did serial dilutions of our two substances, substance A and substance B.  Our dilution range was .1%-.00063% with controls for each using RHW (reconstituted hard water).Once our dilutions were complete it was time to start loading our specimen cups.  For each dilution of both substance we ran 4 different trials each containing the % dilution and 5 healthy daphnia.  My group and I are now pros as extracting neonate daphnia from solution with a cut off disposable micropipette--it is as tedious as it sounds but somehow also relaxing.
Once both test groups were labeled and loaded they were placed in the incubator. We then set up a second control using NaCl and RHW, with a control set, and loaded with five neonate daphnia in order to compare our two substance trials.  This too was placed in the incubator. I will note here that we did collect data on all 3 of these sets for the 0 hour before placing them in the incubator.
Wednesday began with a short lecture over water chemistry and we were right back in the lab.  For the dilutions we created on Tuesday we had to work out the water chemistry details.  We titrated to find hardness of both substance A and B using a color indicator and recorded all of our data.  We used probes to measure Dissolved oxygen levels of all % for both substances.  Then we measured conductivity and pH etc.  The last titration we completed prompted our lab team to dub ourselves "TEAM TITRATION"--we knocked those 2 titrations out of the park!!! Aftre finishing our water chemistry, we did our 24 hour examination of or salt control and 2 substances.  I wont give away any findings yet.  There will be an ice cream social after presentations on Friday in BSB A.401. We then ended with a 1 hour lecture over professional powerpoint presentations as this is what we will be working on tomorrow after we work through all of our data.
Some things I have found fun/interesting this week have been the use of substances like EtOH and Methanol as sterilizing cleaners.  I have learned ALOT more about the life cycle, appearance and behavior of water fleas, Daphnia, than I ever thought possible.  I really want to find time and a way for my students to experience all of the equipments, procedures and protocols that I have experienced this week.  I know that I am a nerd but it has been SUPER fun!!!
Video about other organisms used by this lab