Snow College Takes on the “Congo Project”

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Photo courtesy of chemistry.about.com

Several faculty members, as well as a group of students from Snow College are helping in the gathering of surplus or obsolete laboratory equipment to send to Lodja University to provide the necessary tools in educating their students.

Lodja University is located in Lodja, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and has a population of about 70,000. This university is resource-poor, and often does not have electricity to run its buildings.

Dan Black, the dean of the science division at Snow College, presented this idea to Clinton King, a professor of chemistry at Snow College. Black asked if this would be something Professor King and the Chemistry Club, also called the Mad Scientist’s Club, would be interested in.

“I talked with the club president and some of the other club members at our first meeting and they said it would be a great idea and we all became interested in it,” said King.

A few weeks after King and the Mad Scientist’s Club were introduced to this project, they received a list of the equipment needed. The list came in French because that is the national language in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and was then translated over to English.

“Dane Christensen and Henry Linford are primarily the students spearheading this [project]. Henry, Dane and a few others have been calling around various institutions of higher education, hospitals and businesses asking them if they have any surplus equipment that is obsolete or at least equipment they were going to get rid of, and if they would like to donate it,” said King.

The students have had success in contacting the University of Utah and Utah State University. The next step would be to bring the equipment to Snow College for cleaning and packaging.

When discussing who will pay for the shipping of all this equipment King said, “The Congolese government has agreed to pay for the shipping; that is my impression anyway. So we are going to try and get as much as we can and send it in one large shipment.”

The faculty members came up with the idea of preparing curricular materials to go along with the equipment being sent, such as lab manuals, experiments and written or video instructions on how to properly use the equipment.

“We know from our own experience that when we get new equipment it’s a lot easier to use it if we have some experiments or instructions already prepared,” said King.

Once these materials are made, they will then have to be translated into French. Amy Delbecq, an adjunct biology and chemistry lab instructor at Snow College, is fluent in French and has offered her assistance to help translate the materials.

This project is just getting started and the total amount of equipment that will be collected by the faculty and students is unclear, but the goal is to get as much as possible.

 

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