laboratory design

Video Pre-Labs Improve the Lab Experience

Teaching during COVID was challenging; however, a few positive results surprisingly emerged. For one, Josh Kenney filmed a small library of chemistry lab videos for use in virtual chemistry labs after his school switched to remote learning. At first, he wasn't sure if he would continue to use those videos when his district returned to in-person instruction until he discovered that they would make excellent pre-lab assignments. 

Separation and Choices

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.

A Class Discussion on the Nature of Science

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.

Compiling Student Data

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.

Give Me Back My Copper! A Simple, but Multi-Faceted Lab Activity to Review Lab Skills in Week One of AP Chemistry

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.