The design and development of an outreach activity targeted at 6th grade middle school students, which aims to determine the level of phosphate in samples of water from nearby lakes and streams, are detailed. Several parameters were noted as key to the successful implementation of this activity in a school setting and to it being well-received by both students and teachers. These include the hands-on nature of the experiment, the use of professional scientific equipment and protocols, and the relevance to everyday life and nearby societal issues. Incorporation of the activity into the middle school science curriculum and educational standards are discussed. Qualitative data indicate that the outreach activity was positively received by students and teachers alike. Statistical differences were found between schools and gender even before performing the activity, suggesting that not all student audiences have the same predisposition for science. Overall, the outreach activity appeared to increase stronger endorsements of positive attitudes toward science. Cumulatively, these results suggest that the outreach activity was well-received and engaging and indicate that it increases positive attitudes toward science, though more in-depth and longitudinal analyses are necessary for future studies.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors acknowledge the support of the National Science Foundation provided by INFEWS N/P/H2O:SusChEM CHE-1610832 to VCP, a President’s Faculty Mini-Grant provided by Bemidji State University to KLP, the Departments of Chemistry of Bemidji State University (KLP), and the State University of New York, Oswego (SMH).