Thorsby students combat vaping with presentations

Published 1:25 pm Thursday, May 11, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Stoichiometry is a tough lesson to get through for any high school chemistry student with the amount of math involved in it. However, Thorsby High School science teacher Bridget Caton came up with an idea to not only teach her students about stoichiometry, but give them a chance to make an impact on their school.

Stoichiometry, in more or less words, is a section of chemistry that involves using relationships between two reactants, or products, to determine desired outcomes.

“This is a unit that students kind of get bored with because it is a lot of math,” Caton said. “I was trying to think of something that would engage them, and I wanted to do something real world … and something that they got an opportunity to say ‘This is what we want to do.’”

Caton started the lesson by asking what epidemics the students in this generation are facing in the real world. Depression, anxiety and stress were the big ones brought up. Students then talked about ways students cope with those things and vaping was mentioned.

Caton broke her class into seven groups and they were tasked with creating presentations about how harmful vaping is to those who do it, but also those around it as well. The students came up with the research on their own and designed their models which had to show the effects vaping has on the human body. Finally, the students came up with solutions for how vaping can be prevented at Thorsby next school year.

A lot of websites for vaping are geared more towards showing that it is not as bad as people make it out to be. Caton’s students had to navigate through those to find the proper information that combats vaping.

“It was really hard to get everything together and the internet did not provide us with a lot of information,” Faith Pledger, a Thorsby student who participated in one of the presentations, said. “We had to come up with all the formulas ourselves, and it took a lot of time. It means a lot to us because not only are people vaping affected, but we are also affected by just walking in the hallway. It is a very harmful substance and we want to show people that they are not alone and there are resources where they can get help. We worked really hard to get here.”

“There was a lot of work put into it,” Presley-Raye Knighton, one of Caton’s chemistry students who did a presentation, said. “We had to dig really deep to find information and then apply that to everything Miss Caton has taught us. It was a lot of long nights at people’s houses working … We really care about this subject and wanted to spread awareness.”

Caton will continue to work with the vaping presentations and models the students put together in the fall when she has the same groups for an anatomy class. Each group presented fundraisers to help combat vaping on Thorsby’s campus such as a bake sale to raise money for vape smoke detectors in all of the Thorsby bathrooms and counseling for students who struggle with vaping as an alternative to being suspended for it.

All of the ideas and fundraisers were student generated, and Caton plans to help them in any way she can to achieve those goals.

“Overall, it was a very good lesson and they learned stoichiometry from it for sure,” Caton said. “They were able to contribute something that they came up with and that can help their school, siblings and themselves later on.”