This past summer, I took part in an online teaching training offered by Beyond Benign. According to the Web site, “Beyond Benign was created by Dr. John Warner, a founder of the field of Green Chemistry, to provide an approach and means for scientists, particularly those involved in green chemistry and sustainable science, to reach out to the public.” I learned a great deal from the training. I was exposed to many resources that I did not know existed. I found lessons that I can easily incorporate into my curriculum that make a connection between the student and the chemistry content. Nothing is more powerful in a chemistry classroom than when a student can identify how the course content affects their everyday life and their future.
The course introduces the Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry and then introduces teachers to the wealth of resources available that provide real world connections, provide safer and more environmentally favorable alternatives to common chemistry laboratories and demonstrate the effects of chemistry on our world. The Beyond Benign Web site offers the following definition for Green Chemistry: “Green Chemistry is the science of creating safe, energy efficient and non-toxic products and processes and offers a concrete path toward solving the environmental problems our society faces today.” Of course, we hear the term “green chemistry” often in reference to business and industry. This provides the teacher an opportunity to bring real world issues to our students and inspire them to advocate for future generations as they enter higher education and eventually the workforce.
Many groups are working to link “green chemistry” lessons to the Next Generation Science Standards. Hopefully, this will make the resources even more appealing to high school chemistry teachers.
I was able to participate in the training thanks to Grand Valley State University and the Michigan Green Chemistry Clearinghouse.