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Salem High School science teacher aims high with study of ozone layer

SALEM — Throughout her 11 years at Salem High School, science teacher Laura Preston has believed in hands-on learning opportunities.

In 2007, she spent a month on a research vessel studying the geochemical and geophysical characteristics of the East Pacific Rim south of Mexico. Last year, she worked on a wetlands project with her students and presented the findings to the town’s Conservation Commission.

Her latest project involves working with a partner school in Texas to collect information about damage to the ozone layer. At the Tuesday, Dec. 10, School Board meeting, there will be a public hearing on the acceptance of a $12,000 grant from a Portsmouth-based science foundation, with Salem High School receiving just over $6,000 of the grant money and the middle school in Texas getting the remainder.

“The foundation gives to cooperative science projects,” said Preston. “Ozone North and South is a new ozone study between two cooperating schools.”

Preston has a friend who teaches at the Kennedy Middle School in Grand Prairie, Texas, who will be working with her class for the south portion of the project.

“This is a two-year project,” said Preston. “I don’t go small.”

There are two aspects to the project, one focusing on biology and the other on technology.

The biological component revolves around the planting of a bio-indicator garden with ozone-sensitive plants so students can observe and track the damage to the plants, according to Preston.

The technological component includes the gathering of real-time information and uploading it to Google Earth.

During both parts of the process, students in the two schools will be communicating through Google and uploaded YouTube videos.

“I applaud you and the rest of the staff for taking the initiative to do this,” said School Board member Pamela Berry. “Whenever we can get grants, it is a benefit to the students and good for all of us. People don’t realize the time and energy it takes to apply for grants.”

Because Salem High School’s portion of the grant is over $5,000, a public hearing is necessary before the School Board can officially accept the grant, according to Superintendent Michael


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