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2012 Teaching Fellow Ben Graves and his Advanced Placement environmental science students at Paonia High School (Paonia, Colo.) are working with the University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder) and the Western Slope Conservation Center on a year-long project (2013–2014 school year) designed to evaluate air quality in North Fork Valley. Situated in an area with sparse air quality monitoring, low-cost air quality monitoring stations have been installed on the roof of the school to asses the impact of recent oil and gas development development. Throughout the year, the students will analyze the collected data. Additionally, they will study a unit on air quality monitoring developed by Graves.

The project is being conducted as part of a five-year, $12 million study funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and led by CU-Boulder, with involvement from other organizations, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. The study aims to find ways to maximize oil and gas development, while minimizing the impact on the environment and health. It is focused on concerns such as air and water quality and the use of hydraulic fracturing.

Photo provided by The Daily Sentinel