Albany High School visits campus chem labs
Albany High School chemistry teacher Troy Gale brought 56 of his Honors and Advanced Placement chemistry students to the Skidmore campus April 19 to give them a taste of college chemistry through a morning of hands-on lab experiments.
The visit, coordinated by Kimberly Frederick, associate professor of chemistry, and student Talya Wolf at Skidmore, marked the end of yearlong exchange between Skidmore and Albany High School. Gale and Frederick met in July 2011 when Frederick hosted a program funded by the National Science Foundation for area teachers. Gale was given permission to launch an Advanced Placement chemistry program at Albany this past year, but lacked funds for supplies, chemicals, or equipment. Skidmore Chemistry Professor Ray Giguere donated equipment to Gale last summer, which allowed the high school teacher to open his lab when school started in the fall of 2011. Albany High School administrators supplied funding for additional equipment and updated textbooks.
Frederick also registered with the American Chemical Society (ACS) to serve as a “science coach” for Gale. The pilot program encourages ACS members to share their expertise and enthusiasm for science directly with middle and high school teachers. Coaches agree to meet at least eight times during the school to plan and present demonstrations, answer chemistry questions, assist with labs, consult on safety issues, provide career information, or mentor students in afterschool enrichment programs.
ACS donates $500 to support coach-teacher projects. Coaches and teachers have purchased goggles, aprons, thermometers, electronic balances, molecular model kits, and supplies for specific labs. The funds were used to support Gale’s lab.
Frederick enlisted the help of Skidmore students interested in providing service learning to the high school students. The Skidmore team developed lab activities for the Albany students – one was a fictional murder mystery that involved poisoning by aspirin, which allowed the high school students to do aspirin analysis. The Skidmore students also developed experiments that gave the high school students a chance to study reaction rates over time.
In addition, Frederick presented a “power lunch” program – part of the Albany High School Innovation Academy – where she discussed the research that she and her students do in the field of microfluidics.
During their visit to Skidmore the Albany students did experiments that allowed them to learn more about X-ray fluorescence of paint and jewelry; got an introduction to microscopy; and did gold nanoparticle synthesis. They were welcomed to campus by Rochelle Calhoun, dean of student affairs, and enjoyed lunch in Murray-Aikins Dining Hall before returning to Albany.
(Photos by Eric Jenks '08)