laboratory instruction

Argument-Driven Inquiry in Chemistry: Lab Investigations for Grades 9 - 12

I have been on a mission lately to make scientists out of my students. I am long past my fears that they are not capable of discovering the world for themselves or that they won’t learn the content if we spend too much time on science practices. What I have to work on now is orchestrating the experience. The pedagogy underlying Modeling Instruction has become the backbone for much of my instruction lately. This method of instruction not only gives my students an engaging, authentic scientific experience but has resulted in deeper content knowledge.

An Unexpected Source of Inquiry-Based Lab Practicals

Each spring my Local Section of The American Chemical Society (ACS) hosts a rigorous two part exam as part of the selection process for the The International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO). The lab practicals on the exams are presented as problems. No procedure is given. Students must use their chemistry knowledge and lab experience to devise a plan and solve the problem. The best part is that the released exams come with lists of materials and equipment, helpful hints to the proctors, and solutions! This is a great source for Inquiry-Based Lab Practicals.

Stoichiometry Fireworks Lab Quiz

Given the amount of one reactant, students must use stoichiometry to find the ideal amount of the second reagent to use to create purple fireworks. The teacher ignites each groups' fireworks. Ideal mixture create little or no ash. Student assignment sheet with directions (and different initial amounts) plus teacher information and sample answers are included. This is an exciting and engaging activity that can be used as a stoichiometry quiz.

Mass of a Reaction Product

Students combine sodium carbonate and hydrochloric acid generating carbon dioxide gas which is allowed to escape. They measure the actual yield of carbon dioxide produced (missing mass), calculate the theoretical yield using stoichiometry, and then the percent yield. Students understand that 100% yield is the most appropriate answer (based on the Law of Conservation of Mass), so after considering the meaning of significant figures and the uncertainty of their measurements they are asked to decide if they did (or did not) get an answer that might indicate the validity of the Law.

Complex Ions Lab

This laboratory exercise accompanies the article "". The laboratory serves as part of an extended exercise on the chemistry topic of coordination compounds and complex ions. The entire lesson as described in the article also exposes students to how chemical research is conducted and the conflicts and uncertainties that lead to new theories and discoveries.

Types of Chemical Reactions

I expect that most high school chemistry teachers assign some type of laboratory related to types of chemical reactions including synthesis, decomposition, single replacement and double replacement reactions. I have used several published versions, but I am sharing my modifications.