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(449) Intermolecular forces as a key to understanding chemical fate and environmental issues.
Casey, Ryan*,1, Pittman, Faith2, 1 Towson University, Towson, MD, USA2 Northeast High School, Pasadena, MD, USA
ABSTRACT- Environmental education of undergraduate nonscience majors and high school students is a key to fostering an increased awareness of environmental issues in the general public. Helping the public to understand the origins and complexities of environmental problems is often aided by a general understanding of the molecular causes behind important issues. For this reason, we have developed an environmental chemistry module that can be used in high schools or in undergraduate nonscience courses that relates chemical structures and properties to the macroscopic behavior of substances like pesticides, PCBs and common solvents. Specifically, this module introduces the concepts of intermolecular forces, polarity and partitioning in order to explain complex phenomena such as environmental transport and bioconcentration. The module assumes little more than a basic knowledge of the molecular nature of matter (atoms and bonds) such as would be discussed in the introductory weeks of a high school or college chemistry course. Students are introduced to the concepts of bond polarity, intermolecular forces, molecular polarity and partitioning, after which students can make powerful predictions about the macroscopic world. Learning goals for this module include: identification of structural features related to polar and nonpolar molecules; prediction of relative polarity between pairs of molecules; prediction of relative solubility between water and nonpolar solvents; identification of polarity of environmental compartments; prediction of chemical partitioning into environmental media; prediction of bioaccumulation potential; interpretation of output from a simple chemical partitioning computer model. The Level 1 Version 2.11 model, developed by Trent University, is used in a guided inquiry laboratory segment that allows students to see the relationship between chemical properties and environmental distribution. This module has the potential to liven chemistry by presenting detailed applications and allowing students to make powerful, verifiable predictions.
Key words: environmental education, environmental chemistry, intermolecular forces, partitioning
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