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Building More Sustainably with Concrete: A Guided Inquiry Investigation

journal contribution
posted on 2022-11-16, 23:14 authored by Seamus DelaneySeamus Delaney, A Fehervari, V Moon, Madeleine SchultzMadeleine Schultz
As the most widely used manufactured material on the planet, concrete provides an excellent and underused context for chemistry practical activities. Although concrete’s importance as a building material cannot be overstated, the traditional preparation of concrete is associated with enormous greenhouse gas emissions as well as unsustainable use of limited resources. Concrete consists of four components: cement, water, sand, and coarse aggregate, and the investigation of more sustainable alternatives to each component of concrete is an active area of research. In this activity, students prepare and test traditional concrete and compare its strength to some of the alternatives using a guided inquiry-based experimental method. This allows the students to participate in an important research field and potentially prepares future industry leaders to appreciate low carbon materials. The activity has so far been used at the secondary school level within professional development of 50 teachers, in training of 60 preservice teachers, and in two schools with 55 students. Feedback indicates that teachers and students value seeing direct links between their school science activities and sustainability.



Journal of Chemical Education


Washington, D.C.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal


American Chemical Society