Dr. Monica Ramirez-Andreotta’s hands have been full bringing hands-on scientific demonstrations to the classroom, as well as taking part in special events in support of her community engagement and environmental justice work with the University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP). Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta spent a Saturday afternoon this April talking about environmental health justice and community gardening at the UA Biosphere II in Oracle, Arizona. Her hands-on presentation was part of the Biosphere II Special Saturday Series entitled, What If, with the series theme for April asking the Earth Month-inspired question: “What if we can be better environmental stewards?”
In her presentation, Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta, UA SRP Research Translation Core Principle Investigator, asked the very specific question: “What if we could achieve environmental health justice?” She defined environmental health justice and talked about the impact of soil and water contaminants on the local crops of communities living in environmentally compromised spaces, or neighboring to hazardous waste sites.
She provided demonstrations from her Gardenroots project, an on-going Citizen Science project that examines the safety of home gardening throughout Arizona and in Massachusetts. The demonstration attracted 182 Biosphere II visitors over a two-hour period. Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta states: “It was an honor to be invited! I was delighted to have an opportunity to demonstrate how gardens are excellent platforms for environmental public health citizen science work.”
Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta is also bringing her message to the classroom, and recently gave a hands-on science demonstration to kindergarten students at Acacia Elementary School in Vail, AZ. http://aca.vail.k12.az.us/ Shortly before the school year ended in May, three groups of kindergarteners watched Dr. Ramirez-Andreotta using liquid nitrogen to demonstrate how the different phases of matter work. The youngsters gathered around her to learn about the observational skills used in science. But the real highlight of the demonstration was making (and then eating) a special dessert consisting of liquid nitrogen ice cream with dipping dots (or ice cream rocks, as the dessert was fondly named by the end of the day).