You are on page 1of 3

Presentation Outline

Background Information on Research Project

Project Title: Design and optimization of natural-based process for removing/reducing contaminants in water.

Cactus Goo: Research that Stuck with a High School Chemistry Teacher
Lisa C. Peake
Chemistry Teacher at Wesley Chapel High School The School District of Pasco County, Florida RET Teacher at the University of South Florida Chemical Engineering Department Under the Direction of Dr. Norma Alcantar and Dr. Alessandro Anzalone

Classroom Application Personal Application Questions

Research Motivation
Aluminum sulfate, ferric chloride and polymers are typically used in wastewater and water treatment. A natural alternative that behaves similarly to the currently used flocculants is the mucilage from the common cactus plant. The goal is to build a device that can be used by lowincome households to clean their water supply. This water supply comes from rivers or underground wells where heavy metal content is high due to volcanic soil.

Research Background
Communities in Latin America already use mucilage from cactus plants to reduce turbidity and hardness in their water supply [1]. Cactus: Opuntia ficus indica, has green, thick, long pads the shape of tennis rackets. They grow abundantly and are inexpensive.

Research Background What is Mucilage?

A thick, gum-like substance made of proteins, monosaccharides and polysaccharides. Has the potential to precipitate ions, bacteria and particles [2]. A gum that has special surface active characteristics, allowing it to reduce surface tension.

Research Objectives
Extract and Purify the Nopal Mucilage. Determine the Properties of the Mucilage. Measure the Surface Active Properties. Compare the Efficiency and Effectiveness of each Type of Coagulant to Separate Ions, Heavy Metals and Bacteria from Drinking Water. Analyze Mucilage Recycling Properties.

Research Conclusions
Higher yields of mucilage can be obtained through: Selection of appropriate starting materials Simple procedural modifications (ie. heating, centrifuging) Highly viscous samples appear to have a higher mucilage content Steam pretreatment method (Cardenas) produced highest yield of mucilage

Classroom Applications
Project Specific Applications: Design of Standards-Based Lesson Plans
To introduce chemistry students to water and wastewater treatment systems To introduce the analytical and regulatory issues associated with the use and management of water resources To teach precipitation reactions and solubility rules. Cross-curricular integration with Biology, Environmental Science, and Government.

Classroom Applications

Classroom Applications
General Applications: Guest Speakers at Wesley Chapel High School from the University of South Floridas Engineering Department Increased Credibility when Advising Students towards Engineering Degrees Research Experience supports inquiry-based learning in the classroom. Lab activities need to be studentdesigned and centered.

Personal Application
Equipped me with real-life applications to motivate my students Increased my confidence as a High School Chemistry Teacher Caused inquiry to be a fundamental theme of my personal teaching philosophy Jump-started my desire to start my Masters Degree in Chemistry Curriculum and Instruction at the University of South Florida I will finish in August 2006!

1. Saenz C, Sepulveda E, and Matsushiro B, Opuntia spp mucilages: a functional component with industrial perspectives. Journal of Arid Environments, in press. Benson L, The Cacti of the United States and Canada, 1982: Stanford University Press. Medina-Torres et al., Rheological properties of the mucilage gum (Opuntia ficus indica), 2000. Cardenas, Arguelles, and Goycollea, On the Possible Role of Opuntia ficus-indica Mucilage in Lime Motar Performance in the Protection of Historical Buildings, 1998. D. McGarvie, H. Parolis, The Mucilage of Opuntia ficus-indica. 1979

2. 3. 4.


I would like to thank the following people:
Dr. Carlos Smith from the University of South Florida for the opportunity to participate in the RET program, as well as educational and financial support. Dr. Norma Alcantar and Dr. Alessandro Anzalone for the guidance and assistance. Wayne Jenne and Claire Duggan at Northeastern University for Coordinating this NSF RET Presentation National Science Foundation for sponsoring the program.

Cactus Goo: Research that Stuck with a High School Chemistry Teacher