As a precaution against radiation poisoning similar to that caused by the radiation emitted by the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan, students in Mr. Fong's Honors Chemistry classes recently researched and prepared solutions of the antidote, potassium iodide.
Using information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health, students determined the proper dosage of potassium iodide needed to protect the thyroid gland from the radioactive isotope Iodine - 131.
Then, using a calculation technique known as dimensional analysis, the budding scientists calculated the concentration of an aqueous solution required for a convenient one teaspoonful dosage and proceeded to formulate dosages for our entire school population, using equipment and techniques learned in lab this past year.
Once all the solutions were prepared, students presented their work to the "SJND Food and Drug Administration" for approval. The Food and Drug panel consisted of fellow classmates who carefully scrutinized research sources and calculations.
The students were not given any step-by-step instructions, Mr. Fong said. They were simply told, "Here is the problem. Solve it using the knowledge and skills we have developed in chemistry this year."
"Our students showed that they could think about a problem and figure out a solution on their own using the many resources available," said Mr. Fong. "This is what happens in the real world, not just memorizing the names and symbols of the elements. This is true understanding of chemistry."