HAFB donates spectrometer to Clearfield High School

Sep 22 2010 - 10:12pm

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(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) Larry Evanicky, of Shimadzu Science Technologies, talks to students about a spectrometer donated by Hill Air Force Base to Clearfield High School in Clearfield on Wednesday.
(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) Larry Evanicky, of Shimadzu Science Technologies, talks to students about a spectrometer donated by Hill Air Force Base to Clearfield High School in Clearfield on Wednesday.

CLEARFIELD -- The newest addition to Clearfield High School's science department will give students a step up in analyzing data.

"It's the first high school in Utah to receive one, and it took an act of Congress for them to receive it," said Kerry Logan with PerkinElmer, a company that develops technology to study the environment.

That act of Congress, spearheaded by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, landed the high school with a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer.

Students from Clearfield and Northridge high schools will have access to the machine to analyze chemistry, botany and other science projects.

That means Makayla Bottoms, a senior, will have a better way to measure and analyze data for her International Baccalaureate research project.

"The machine allows me to test the chemicals in the phloem and xylem of the trees," Makayla said.

She was among a dozen students, along with half a dozen teachers, who attended the first training meeting for the GC/MS, which also is featured on "CSI" TV shows.

"Am I getting too deep for you?" said Larry Evanicky, with Shimadzu, a company that builds machines like the spectrometer.

He was giving a demonstration on how to operate the GC/MS, as well as showing what it can and can't do.

"No," one student said.

The GC/MS originally was housed at Hill Air Force Base. Bonnie Bourgeous, a science teacher at Clearfield High School, learned the base was going to replace the machine and scrap it.

Bourgeous saw an opportunity and contacted the Air Force Association, as well as Bishop's office, to find out how the school could get the machine.

After 18 months of negotiations, Bourgeous applied for a grant through the AFA, and because it was illegal for the base to donate equipment to schools, Bishop sponsored legislation to make the donation possible.

The GC/MS was originally valued at $80,000 and is now worth $35,000.

For base officials, like Mark Ross, having high school students exposed to the technology before they go to college is exciting.

"The big thing is, it gets kids interested and keeps them interested in science," said the industrial waste water treatment plant manager at the base.

"If they have a background in science, they are more likely to go into engineering fields."

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