LSU SRP Research Translation Core Hosts a 4-H University Clover College Track

2016 Clover College "Trackin' Toxins" participants

2016 Clover College “Trackin’ Toxins” participants with LSU SRP RTC Leader Dr. Maud Walsh (front row, left), LSU SRP RTC Coordinator Jen Irving (front row, center) and LSU SRP Undergraduate Trainee Grace LeBlanc (front row, right).

 The Louisiana State University Superfund Research Center (LSUSRP) Research Translation Core (RTC) had a great time hosting a Clover College track during the LSU AgCenter 4-H University, held June 21-24, 2016 on LSU’s campus.  4-H University is an annual event where 4-H members compete in contests, explore careers, and discover new interests.  This year’s 4-H University involved more than 1,600 4-H’ers, 100 AgCenter agents and staff, and 150 volunteers.  Clover College is a hands-on learning experience developed for youth that want to participate in 4-H University but don’t want to compete in the contests.

2016 Clover College "Trackin' Toxins" participants survey lichen communities around the LSU campus.

Lichens don’t like air pollution! 2016 Clover College “Trackin’ Toxins” participants survey lichen communities around the LSU campus.

This year 225 Clover College participants explored tracks on topics such as health professions, fashion, fitness, and environmental science.  The LSU SRP RTC developed and conducted a session entitled “Trackin’ Toxins” where participants could learn how Environmental Health Scientists measure and track pollution in the environment.  Some of the activities in the track included using lichens as biomonitors for outdoor air pollution, learning about sources of indoor pollution, conducting a simulated blood lead test, and identifying aquatic macroinvertebrates.

lead and lego

Left: LSU SRP Undergraduate Trainee Grace LeBlanc helps with a simulated blood lead test.    Right: LSU SRP RTC Coordinator Jen Irving shows participants how to build the reactants (propane and oxygen gas) and products (water and carbon dioxide) of the combustion reaction with LEGOs™.

Research at the LSU SRP focuses on newly-identified pollutant-particle systems called environmentally persistent free radicals, or EPFRs, that are formed by reactions between transition metals and organic material during combustion and thermal processes  The LSU SRP RTC developed the “Trackin’ Toxins” activities to introduce participants to the different disciplines of science that are involved in studying and developing solutions to complex environmental health problems, such as the EPFRs our center studies.  We also wanted participants to understand the basics of air pollution and how they can protect themselves from toxins in our environment.   When asked what the participants would do with the information they learned in their track, one of ours responded “use it to educate other people on the harms of pollution and how to avoid lead exposure.”  We couldn’t have asked for anything more!

macros with gloves

2016 Clover College “Trackin’ Toxins” participants identify aquatic macroinvertebrate samples from the LSU lakes.

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