If you only have a few weeks of in-person labs this fall semester, consider this lab content reorganization.
This is the first of three consecutive blogs about online labs. This first blog centers on the question, "Is chemistry laboratory coursework still relevant?" The second and third blogs discuss if the lab curricula we currently use is achieving our goals and if lab coursework can be effectively moved to an online platform.
Erica Jacobsen shares highlights from the November 2019 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education of special interest to our ChemEd X community.
I allowed my students to choose between two separation type laboratories. About two thirds of the class chose to separate the flavoring out of a grape of cherry soda. The rest of the students used paper chromatography to determine if red-40 dye was in a specific type of candy.
The first chapter of every middle and high school science textbook I have ever seen contains an oversimplified section on “the scientific method.” I wanted my students to gain an understanding of science by doing science, as best as we can replicate in a classroom, though inquiry labs, class discussions, and defending claims with evidence.
I think this experiment provides a fantastic vehicle to involve students of all ages in small, hands-on and exploratory research projects. Like many others, my students and I have investigated various aspects of this interesting fountain.
To assist in grading the lab results for this and other quantitative labs that we did, I created Excel spreadsheets where the students’ results could be entered. The spreadsheet then did all the required calculations and compared the students’ results to the theoretical value. This made grading the lab reports much quicker and more accurate, flagged incorrect student calculations, allowed a much more complete discussion of the lab results and permitted “what if” questions to be discussed.
In the lab, students are given a 1.5 gram samples of copper. The copper is taken through a series of five chemical reactions ending with the precipitation of solid copper. After the five reactions, students are asked to return their 1.5 gram samples of copper to the teacher.
Think it’s possible to get nostalgic over paperwork? I just did, spurred by editor-in-chief Norb Pienta’s editorial Thinking about Champions in the December 2015 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education.