Saturday, March 24, 2007

Not your father's science project

Forget those styrofoam balls on straightened coat hangers rotating around a yellow beach ball. The solar system doesn't cut it as a science project any more? And those baking soda eruptions from paper mache volcanos? They're oh-so-yesterday.

Note to school age science geeks — Check out the school project that two 17-year-old students at a rural Florida high school recently completed. Note the controversy it has created.

In a nutshell, the two students tested the air for pesticides near a nearby elementary school. When officials of the school, which opened in the fall of 2005, wouldn’t allow them to put their test equipment on school property, they put it on private property near the school. (As way of background, the school is located in an agricultural area — mostly cabbage and some potatoes — southwest of Jacksonville, FL.

When the high school students released their findings that their “drift catcher” had captured evidenced of pesticides, such as diazinon, trifluralin and the herbicide endosulfin in the air near the school all hell brought loose. School officials told parents of students there’s no reason for concern, and one pesticide expert said the findings were essentially part of the anti-pesticide agenda of the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA). Other experts, including the folks from PANNA, insist the testing was sound and the results accurate.

Click on the headline for the article reported March 23 by (Sometimes the link works; sometimes it doesn't.) — Ron Hall

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