This summer, Dr. Adrienne Katner, Assistant Professor at LSU School of Public Health (SPH) and researcher Aubrey Gilliland, MPH, took fourth grade students from Phillis Wheatley Community School to collect water samples from faucets along the Lafitte Greenway, and to monitor traffic-associated air and soil pollutants along New Orleans’ Claiborne Avenue corridor. Students also participated in launching a balloon to take aerial photos of the U.S. Interstate-10 (I-10) traffic. Their teacher Kelly Davidson is assembling the outcomes of the students’ analyses and other I-10 related student projects in a book to document the environmental hazards, exposure pathways and potential risks along the I-10 corridor. The project strives to give a voice to students regarding their findings, reactions and concerns.
This project was part of a two-year grant funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). Headed by Dr. Katner and Dr. Kari Brisolara the goal is to develop high school and elementary school curricula to introduce inner-city students to environmental public health through a series of interdisciplinary project-based hands-on assignments. The hope is that the class will motivate students to become advocates for their community, their environment, their families and their health by empowering them with strategies and tools adopted from the fields of science, policy, health, communications and even fine arts.