Living Sustainably: Students study air quality with local monitors

A recent report cites 104 fires burning more than 2.4 million acres in 14 U.S. states. Would it surprise you to know that these wildfires impact us here in Holland? 

Pictures from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data show wildfire smoke wafting through West Michigan last month. Did you notice these plumes as they drifted through Holland? Hazy skies and fantastic red sunsets for photographers were one indication.

Scientists saw them, too. Scientists use data to “see” things. For example, advanced air quality monitors at the Lakeview School Park on 32nd Street in Holland generate daily air quality data. 

These monitors collect data for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. For example, a chart from July 4 clearly indicates the air quality impact from fireworks at the end of the day. Another chart shows data from July 20, when the smoke plume passed through town. 

Students and teachers collect and study Holland air quality data, too, thanks to a local network of student monitors. The project is managed by Hope College’s ExploreHope Academic Outreach office and is funded through the Michigan Space Grant Consortium.

“Our project brings authentic experiences in data collection to middle school and high school classrooms throughout Western Michigan,” said Susan Ipri Brown, the program director and assistant professor of engineering instruction. “Our monitors, though not directly calibrated to the EGLE monitors, let local students and teachers see the same data patterns.”

Professional government-operated air quality monitors showed the increase in particles in the air during Fourth of July fireworks and when the wild fire plume moved through West Michigan.
The student air quality monitors showed increased particles in the air during Fourth of July fireworks and when the wild fire plume moved through West Michigan, a similar pattern to that shown by the professional government monitors.

“The monitors are excellent inquiry-based tools for students using state-of-the-art technology,” science teacher Bob DeBruyn said. “Students use data they collect to answer questions they are curious about. They feel like real scientists.”

Collective Idea, a Holland software company, equips these monitors to report data live and in real time.

“Our team loves working with the community — students, the public and decision makers — to show meaningful data in real-time at a fraction of the cost of government monitors,” CEO Dan Morrison said. 

Joe Sikma, sustainability manager at the Outdoor Discovery Center, put a monitor at the DeGraaf Nature Center and another on the roof of Holland City Hall, as part of the effort “to increase air quality awareness and provide real-world educational opportunities for students.”

With these monitors, students see the same data patterns seen from the professional monitors. The graphs from the student monitors clearly indicate the effect of the Fourth of July fireworks, for instance. It’s real data, real events, and real student learning.

Sometimes students ask if the air they are studying is safe. Smoke contains particulate matter smaller than 2.5 millionth of a meter. As we breath, these particles pass through our lungs and into our bloodstreams, reaching vital organs. 

Health standards for matter of that size consider 24-hour exposures.

“Short upticks from a night of fireworks are less concerning than long-time exposures,” noted Jeff Pfost, a local air quality consultant.

It’s all connected. From wildfires to air quality, from Space Consortium grants to science classrooms, it’s amazing how the people of Holland work together to help our students learn.

Be your own data scientist:

— Don Triezenberg is a physics and mathematics teacher. In retirement, Don volunteers with the student air quality monitor program at Hope College and advocates for a rigorous Community Energy Plan for Holland.

https://www.hollandsentinel.com/story/news/environment/2021/08/23/living-sustainably-students-study-air-quality-local-monitors/8211608002/

About this series

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. 

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme: 

Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

FREE Trees With HBPW’s Energy Saving Trees Giveaway

Reserve your FREE TREE (while supplies last) arborday.org/HBPW Hurry, before they’re gone! Energy Saving Trees – Holland BPW and the City of Holland are providing free trees to HBPW electric customers through the Arbor Day Foundation’s Energy-Saving Trees program.

Tree distribution will be Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

tree giveaway

Green Commute Week 2021

Green Commute “Week” is a fun event intended to take vehicles off the road during the height of ozone season (June through August). Every year, the event aims to encourage individuals to carpool, ride the bus, ride a bike, walk, and telecommute.
This year, we are trying something different – Green Commute “Week” BINGO!

The event will run between AUGUST 1st-AUGUST 31st, 2021

Learn more at: http://www.the-macc.org/gcw-2021/

Student-led solar project powers grounds equipment at Hope

Hope College is now powering some landscape equipment and electric golf carts by the sun!
A small 2.4 kW photovoltaic system has been installed on top of the Keppel Carriage House thanks to students in the 2019-2020 Intro to Engineering Course.

This carriage house itself is a repurposed building that was moved in the 1990s to its current location between the Jack H. Miller Center for the Music Arts and the Physical Plant Office. The Keppel House was built in 1914 as a family residence. Both buildings were saved and relocated to allow for construction of Haworth Hotel and Cook Hall residence hall.
The latest sustainability effort for the old building is a multi-department solar energy project involving faculty, staff, and students from our Department of Engineering, Physical Plant, Office of Sustainability, and campus Green Team.
Students took the lead in researching and designing the system as well as sourcing the materials and researching the permitting process. This is an off-grid system, so the students also had to develop a storage plan for the energy that was created.
“The system was designed by Hope engineering students in the Introduction to Engineering course. Most of the students in this course are first-year students. Student teams developed a range of potential designs, and then Physical Plant staff selected the system they felt was a best fit to their needs,” said Dr. John Krupczak, professor of engineering at Hope.
“The project was a great real-world example for engineering students. The student teams needed to consider multiple factors such as cost, siting, and use schedules in developing their designs.”
The system was installed by the Hope College Physical Plant team and started to generate power this April. So far, more than 150 kWh of energy have been produced.

“This project has and will continue to offer more energy options for the Physical Plant as a whole as well as the grounds department,” said Bob Hunt, the college’s grounds manager. “The system will be used for charging campus-use carts, the Greenworks electric stand-on 48-inch mower, and handheld grounds equipment. We are in the process of converting all of the Hope carts to electric and are looking to expand the solar collection surface area in the future to expand charging and storage capabilities.”
This collaborative and cross-functional project has been fun to work on because it pulled together people from all over campus and allowed the students to help with a real-world project that will have a direct impact on the campus and the college’s sustainability goals.
While this may be a small project, we know we will continue to learn about how initiatives like electrification of our fleet and solar energy could play a part in our campus sustainability journey.
To know more about other Hope College sustainability projects or programs, please visit
hope.edu/sustainability.
-Michelle Seppala Gibbs is the director for the Office of Sustainability at Hope College.

Hope College’s century old Keppel Carriage House has a new 21st Century solar power collector to help power grounds department equipment.

STEM@Hope! Summer Science Camps kick-off

“Everyone loves to STEM@Home during the school year, but Summer 2021 can be your time to STEM@Hope with ExploreHope’s on-campus Summer Science Camps! The school year’s winding down, and that means your summer of STEM is about to begin. Hope Summer Science Camps begin on June 14 and run through July 30.

Whether you love dinosaurs or dissection, coding with Python and Raspberry Pi or Crime Science Investigation, ExploreHope Summer Science Camps is ready to make your summer STEM-tastic.

Not a science buff? Don’t fret – between Movie Making, Ukulele, and Art in 2D/3D, we’ve got a camp perfect for you.

ExploreHope is following Hope College protocols to keep campers and staff safe this summer while keeping our camps as fun and engaging as ever! Visit our Hope Summer Science Camp page to learn more about the camps we offer and to enroll. Sign up today!

Susan Ipri Brown and Michelle Gibbs receive new Great Lakes Fishery Trust award

Susan Ipri Brown, Director of ExploreHope and Assistant Professor of Engineering Instruction, and Michelle Gibbs, Director of the Office of Sustainability, received a $43,544 award from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust Great Lakes Stewardship Program. The project is titled Nurturing Stewardship Through Peer Mentoring.

Read the full annoucement on the “Sponsored Research and Programsblog post.

2021 Sustainability Research Projects

In Holland, we believe that in order to become a vibrant, world-class community we must look at all aspects of our community.  This includes the “Triple Bottom Line”  and the economic, social, and environmental impacts we all have. Our City of Holland Sustainability Committee has created a seven-pillar framework with “lenses” to help us evaluate and make more sustainable choices. We have used this framework model as a way to identify the 2021 Hope College Sustainability Research Projects.

The Sustainability Institute would like to formally recognize the following projects that presented during the 2021 Virtual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (CURCA) on Friday, April 30.  

PDF Document:  2010 Sustainability Research Projects

Framework Categories:

SMART ENERGY  

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 

TRANSPORTATION  

COMMUNITY & NEIGHBORHOOD  

QUALITY OF LIFE  

COMMUNITY KNOWLEDGE  

ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION & AWARENESS  

For more information about the Annual Celebration visit:

https://hope.edu/academics/celebration-undergraduate-research/

The students and their projects represented all of the college’s academic divisions — the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural and applied science.

The research and performance celebration, first presented in 2001, is designed to spotlight the quality and importance of student-faculty collaborative research at Hope. Undergraduate research is a hallmark experience for many Hope students and has been a teaching model used at the college for more than seven decades. Mentored collaborative research happens year-round, with approximately 300 students conducting faculty-supervised independent research during the academic year and 200 doing research over the summer, making Hope’s summer research program among the largest in the nation at a liberal arts college. Since faculty are active in scholarship year-round, many more students engage in research during the academic year.

Research has a long and storied history at Hope College. More than 100 years ago, biologist Dr. Samuel O. Mast designed research laboratory space for the college’s Van Raalte Hall, which opened in 1903. The late Dr. Gerrit Van Zyl, who taught chemistry at the college from 1923 to 1964, is widely recognized for developing research-based learning at Hope in its modern sense.

Annual Earth Day and Arbor Day Tree Plantings

These are only open to our Hope College students, faculty, and staff. If you plan to join us, please make sure to follow campus social distancing practices.

April 2021 Wellness Program Challenges Help Celebrate Earth Month

At the start of 2021, a national survey revealed that nearly 84% of adults have reported experiencing at least one emotion associated with prolonged stress. Prolonged stress disrupts the balance of a healthy mind and body. This month, learn methods to help manage your stress and how something as simple as laughter can provide lasting benefits to your body, mind, and soul!

Click here for the full monthly Newsletter and use page 2 to challenge yourself to start stress-reducing practices today!

TREE HUGGER CHALLENGE April 1-April 30
The Tree Hugger Challenge invites you to enjoy nature for 300 minutes over the next 30 days (this averages to 10 minutes a day).  Choose something that YOU enjoy doing each day such as enjoying lunch at the park, taking a hike, walking a trail or enjoying a sunset over lake MI! This is on the wellness portal (hopewellness.wellright.com) – if you are not on the wellness portal please email Kathryn (wellness@hope.edu) and she will send you a registration link! 

EARTH DAY – MONTH LONG CELEBRATION 

Throughout April (in place of a try it before you buy it)

April 22th is dedicated as earth day each April.  However, due to Covid we are opting to avoid a large group gathering to join forces to keep the environment clean on one specific day and instead shift the focus to April as Environmental Awareness month! This April we want to encourage (and challenge) everyone to get outside, enjoy nature, get exercise and aid to beautify the community/nature while doing it (this would count towards the above challenge minutes, too!). 

Starting on April 1st bags, gloves, and local park maps will be available in the lobby in front of Human Resources.  There will also be a sign up sheet for a drawing for an Ottawa County Parks pass for individuals who are participating in this endeavor.  The drawing will take place on May 1st. 

Kathryn J. Mock, MBA RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Client Services Manager
kathryn@onsitewellnessllc.com
616.309.2761