Learning to be green: Involving students in the decision making process

Richard W. Gurney, Department of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, Simmons College, 300 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02115

ABSTRACT: To engage students in the asymptotic approach to a perfect green experiment,[1] a laboratory experience was developed whereby informed decisions must be made throughout the entire process. Students actively choose the synthetic pathway and the methods of isolation, characterization and purification of the final product by assessing risk at each step of the process. The experiment empowers students to make informed decisions in the laboratory and provides an opportunity to become directly involved in the "greening" experience. Over the past two years, students have collectively approached the greenest method to oxidize an alcohol to a ketone in the absence of solvent, using a heterogenized catalyst, and a microwave energy source, while isolating and purifying the product in the complete absence of solvent. We hope this will encourage students to further explore the field and understand the implications of choosing one synthetic pathway over another. [1] Goodwin, T. E. J. Chem. Ed. 2004, 81, 1187 - 1190.