International Year of Chemistry, 2011

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International Year of Chemistry 2011

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Impossible2possible - Expedition Bolivia - La Ruta de Sal

Activity by Ewan Affleck   |   added on Feb 22, 2011   |   Canada Official_iyc_logo

Sponsor(s): Gatorade

In May 2011 impossible2possible (i2P) will mount an expedition the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world, high in the Bolivian Andes. In honor of the International Year of Chemistry, i2P will take the principles of chemistry out of the classroom and into the remarkable environment of the Salar.


Following in the footsteps of successful expeditions to Baffin Island, the Sahara Desert, and the Amazon Basin, four youth ambassadors will be joining an i2P expedition team as it travels across the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world, which is found at the crest of the Bolivian Andes. Using Internet technology the i2P team will communicate live from Bolivia to participating students around the world. Students and teachers will once more have the opportunity to post questions to expedition members both through live videoconferences from the field and through e-mail. Complementing this live communication will be a rich i2P education resource complete with education modules, blogs, topical questions, class exercises, videos and the Exploratory program. The creation of the content of the education resource that accompanies this expedition is the subject of this project plan.


2011 is the International Year of Chemistry. Standard North American high school curriculum covers the fundaments of chemistry, and completing a core chemistry course is a requisite of most high school programs.  In honor of the International Year of Chemistry i2P will take the principles of chemistry out of the classroom and into the fabulous laboratory of the natural world.  Chemistry is the science of matter, and how matter changes in different environments and conditions.


Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, nestled high in the Andes mountains is an ideal location to explore the world of chemistry.  The largest salt flats on Earth, the Salar is in fact a lake which is covered with a thick crust of salt, strong enough to support vehicular travel. Below the crust, the lake consists of a brine of water, table salt, magnesium and over half the world’s lithium reserves. Ten and a half thousand kilometers in area, the Salar is the flattest area in the world.  At almost 12,000 feet elevation the change in atmospheric pressure impacts how matter and chemical reactions behave in this environment.  The i2P team members, as they run across the Salar, will undergo physiologic changes that allow them to adapt to the high elevation.  These changes are a manifestation of the adaptation that the human body has will to environmental change, adaptation that is mediated by chemical reactions in the body. Indeed the very existence of life is founded on the chemical reactions that allow organisms to build molecules and transfer energy and adapt to ever changing environments. 


Thus in celebration of the International Year, Bolivia’s the Salar de Uyuni will serve as a rich backdrop for a fascinating discourse on chemistry. 

About i2P 


Impossible2Possible is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring, educating, and equipping a 

generation of global problem solvers to achieve extraordinary acts in environmental and human 

sustainability.   We achieve our mission by directly involving youth in extraordinary expeditions, 

communicating the experience of these expeditions to a larger student audience through our web-based 

education program, and through a school lecture series and i2P youth camps.  i2P has staged successful 

education based expeditions to the South Pole, Baffin Island, Siberia and the Sahara Desert.   For more 

information please see our website ( 

Topic: celebrating chemistry, chemistry education, educational materials Audience: students, general public, educators, high schools, school children, secondary schools, secondary school students
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