Student Science Teams
The Mercury Environmental Fate and Transport project has supported student Science Action Teams (SAT) consisting of local high school students and teachers during the summers of 2000, 2001, and 2002.
INL’s SAT Program offers a career development opportunity for high school students to team up with scientific and technical experts at INL. During an 8-week summer program, students are immersed in a research or applied project. Students are given opportunities to learn and apply science, mathematics, engineering, and technology concepts that reinforce, complement, and go beyond a typical high school curriculum.
Michael Abbott said, "What we’re lacking in environmental research is real data and the only way to get real data is to go to the field...we don’t have all the answers... six heads are better than one...think outside the box... expect to put results in our publications..." View the video (672kB .asf file). Picture on left: Student Action Team members helping to take mercury soil samples at INL.
"I ask them to think outside the box, and they really do," said INL environmental scientist Mike Abbott, who serves as the student teams’ mentor for the Mercury Cycling research at INL. "They ask good questions and think of things I would never have thought of, really making me work."
Abbott includes the students on any publications or posters that result from the work they were involved in and hopes that their summer experience will encourage more students to choose science careers. "This is the really fun part of my job," he said.
The SATs have provided valuable assistance in field sampling activities, resulting in successful comprehensive measurement of mercury in INL soils, and mercury fallout reconstruction in lake sediment cores taken from the Mud Lake/Camas Wildlife Refuge area.
Picture on right: Students helping to sample lake sediment.
In the summer of 2002, an SAT assisted in conducting mercury re-emission flux measurements. In addition to providing technical assistance for INL researchers, this program provides an outstanding scientific enrichment program for local area students and teachers, fosters public understanding and acceptance of work at INL and demonstrates INL’s commitment to community development and environmental stewardship.