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High school students to share air quality research

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Since January, nearly 150 Delta County high schoolers have been conducting hands-on air quality research, thanks to a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and four local high schools.

Now the students are ready to share their research projects in their classrooms and at two different Air Quality InQuiry (AQ-IQ) Science Symposium, which are free and open to the public:

• Wednesday, April 5, 6 to 8 p.m. at Paonia High School, featuring student projects from Paonia High School.

• Tuesday, May 23, 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Delta High School, featuring student projects from Delta High School.

These events are co-sponsored by the Western Slope Conservation Center. If you would like to attend a free pizza dinner, please RSVP to Katya Hafich.

Under the guidance of CU Boulder mechanical engineering associate professor Michael Hannigan, graduate and undergraduate students have worked closely with teachers from Delta, Cedaredge, Hotchkiss and Paonia high schools to help the students design projects that investigate local air quality issues. The high school students designed their own research project, collected samples using low-cost, next-generation air quality monitors developed in Hannigan's lab and then analyze their own data. Students at Cedaredge and Hotchkiss will be presenting their projects to CU Boulder students and faculty in their classrooms in April.

"This project is really about democratizing science. CU Boulder helps provide our students in Delta with the tools they need to investigate and answer genuine questions about the air we breathe," said Ben Graves, a co-founder of the AQ-IQ program and a science teacher at Delta High School.

Graves will provide a brief history of the program at both symposiums. In addition, CU Boulder mechanical engineering professor Dr. Jana Milford will talk briefly about her research on the air quality implications of Colorado's future energy choices at the April symposium. Posters will be judged, and prizes given to the top three research projects.

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