Middle-schoolers to learn about toxic chemicals in products -- and what they can do

This Saturday, February 28, the Environmental Education staff – Katy Adams and MacKenzie Maxwell – will be representing the Ecology Center at the Michigan Science Teacher Association (MSTA) 62nd Annual Conference in Grand Rapids. Katy and MacKenzie will be demonstrating the XRF used by the HealthyStuff team to test toxics in household products, the two will be giving a presentation of the Dangerously Beautiful: The Chemistry of Cosmetics lesson for middle grade students.

middle-school-science-fairThe presentation, which starts at 11:00 Saturday morning, is specifically structured to engage students on the issue of environmental health and toxic ingredients found in common cosmetics while teaching them about safe and creative alternatives -- using the chemistry background and terminology that students learn in middle school.

Parabens and phthalates show up in a surprising number of makeup and personal care products, both of which can seep through the skin and cause chemical changes and damage on the body. Alongside learning how to avoid toxic products, students will work to identify larger-scale problems and think through action plans that address a larger scope (e.g., civic engagement, policy action, and engaging with decision-makers).

The Ecology Center’s Environmental Education team works directly with Michigan schools and teachers to provide programs in classrooms around the state that are aligned with Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations and High School Content Expectations. In addition, many of the curriculum and content used by our Environmental Education team is published online so that students everywhere can be taught these important lessons about the recycling, composting, waste management, and safer, green chemicals. This work is funded, in part, by the Worthington Family Foundation.

If you want to check out the MSTA 62nd Annual Conference, head over to their site for more information regarding registration. Can't make it to the conference? Check out our blog, where environmental educator Melissa Cooper Sargent wrote about Dangerously Beautiful.


Photo: "Middle School Science Fair" by Phil Roeder is licensed under CC BY 2.0