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Encouraging High School Students To Learn About Bioremediation

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Use of Labs to Introduce Students to Engr.

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.472.1 - 7.472.7

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Paper Authors

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Janet Powell

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Richard Mines

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Laura Lackey

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Main Menu Session 2002-781

Encouraging High School Students to Learn about Bioremediation

Richard O. Mines, Jr.1, Janet Carlson Powell2, Laura W. Lackey1

Mercer University1, Department of Environmental Engineering, 1400 Coleman Avenue, Macon, GA 31210 / BSCS2, 5415 Mark Dabling Blvd. Colorado Springs, CO 808919

Abstract This paper presents a laboratory activity for high school students used to stimulate their interest in environmental engineering and the role of bioremediation in cleaning up the environment. The proposed laboratory activity utilized six, 2-L plastic bottles that contain 100-grams of indigenous soil in each to serve as bioreactors. Varying amounts of glucose are added to the reactors, which are monitored with time for a period of five to ten days. Questions for assessing the exercise along with sample laboratory results are provided.

Introduction The challenges of environmental engineers have historically focused on the design of drinking water treatment facilities, municipal and industrial wastewater treatment, solid waste collection and disposal systems, and air pollution control equipment. In recent years, these challenges have expanded to include the identification, removal, and treatment of hazardous chemicals and wastes that have resulted from inadvertent spills or illegal discharges to the land, water, and air. This paper presents a laboratory activity for high school students used to stimulate their interest in environmental engineering and the role of bioremediation in cleaning up the environment.

Bioremediation is a natural process in which indigenous microorganisms found in soil and water are utilized for treating primarily toxic organic compounds such as solvents, pesticides, herbicides, and precursors for industrial processes. These microorganisms transform the toxic organic compounds into less harmful products such as carbon dioxide and water. It can be used to treat contaminated media, excavated soil, soil in situ, groundwater, surface water, and gases emanating from soil. Bioremediation requires the control and manipulation of microbial processes, therefore, requiring the integration of scientific principles with engineering.

The proposed laboratory activity utilizes six soil bioreactors to measure the concentration of glucose over time to simulate how heterotophic bacteria in the soil would consume and transform gasoline or oil into innocuous products. Different glucose concentrations are added to the soil in five of the bioreactors and the sixth serves as a control. Parameters that may be measured over time include dissolved oxygen (DO), pH, glucose concentration, and chemical oxygen demand (COD) or biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). Colony forming units (CFU) and turbidity analyses may also be conducted to quantify the microbial growth rate.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Powell, J., & Mines, R., & Lackey, L. (2002, June), Encouraging High School Students To Learn About Bioremediation Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada.

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