Making SENSE of SCIENCE
Surrounded by Coke, Cheerwine and Mountain Dew, two Catawba college students stand near a high performance liquid chromatograph. They measure the amount of caffeine in the soft drinks.
Another measures the amount of ibuprofen in Advil and Equate. Still others analyze Scope and Listerine for alcohol content.
This is Dr. Mark Sabo's analytical chemistry class, a place where students learn how to use the same sophisticated scientific equipment that scientists use in industry. "Hopefully, this will show them what's done in the real world," Sabo says.
He gives his students opportunities to work with industrial equipment. He brought $200,000 worth of equipment with him to Catawba -- all instruments that were donated by his former employer or the Environmental Protection Agency. Now Catawba students have the opportunity to use a gas chromatograph, ion chromatograph and mass spectrometer.
They can measure the level of pollutants in water and air; gauge the amount of pesticides or insecticides in soil; and even measure the level of drugs in the blood.
Students often claim that chemistry is difficult, Sabo says. "I don't mind my students thinking it's tough, but I want them to understand it. I want my students to know that chemistry is not just an academic science but something they can relate to."