AP Chemistry Lab Manual Recommendation

I just wanted to share a resource that I have been using since I started teaching AP chemistry last year. I learned about them from an APSI I attended and that was led by one of the lab authors. It is a lab book that is POGIL based and, more importantly, actually endorsed by the POGIL project.

I have been using Pasco’s Advanced Chemistry Through Inquiry labs last year and this year. It is the best $49 I’ve spent for my students. I have no vested interest (aka, I didn’t write the labs nor do I earn money from sales), so I hope you trust my assessment as honest.

  1. Pros -

    1. After a warm up, students dive into two to three models that help them dig into the content. Then, when they understand the techniques, they have an opportunity to design their own procedure to answer a related experimental question. Some labs are based on what the college board recommends, some are not but are so, so good. There’s a fabulous electrochem lab that I’ve never seen around the interwebs or other vendors.

    2. There is a hard copy teacher edition, but you get editable word documents for students! No awkward pdfs to screenshot, retype, etc. as you edit for your own purposes.

    3. Students dig deeper into particulate diagrams and error analysis than I would have as a novice teacher. Not only are my students getting more opportunities to translate between nanoscopic, symbolic, and macroscopic representations, because of this modeling for me as a teacher, that now bleeds into other areas of my teaching even more.

    4. Just as with any guided inquiry activity, I have been able to better assess student understanding in the moment to support student learning instead of discovering it in the lab reports.

    5. Error analysis is hard - for my students, they have to describe the lab error and how it directly affected quantitative data. My students’ ability to do error analysis in their lab reports is much stronger this year already compared to last year (when they were doing more traditional lab work until I got this manual last November) because they have more modeling throughout the lab work.

  2. Cons-

    1. They can be really time consuming. They might be about three hours-ish depending on how you pace it. There are time estimates provided, and they are a kind gesture. However, my students spend about time and a half of these estimates.

      1. How I deal:

        1. Sometimes I’ll cut out the last section where students create their own lab if I feel like it’s not enough bang for the time buck. The data fairy has visited in those scenarios so they arre still thinking and working through the content, but can’t afford more time.

        2. I feel like anyone who uses guided inquiry in their class might cringe, but sometimes, I just have to assign some debrief questions for homework and then review them at the beginning of the next class before completing the next model of the lab. It’s not ideal - students are supposed to come up with a consensus and wrestle with the content, right? I see one year ago Tracy shaking her fist at current me, but now I realize I have about 3984309849084308 learning objectives to cover in not enough time.

This lab manual is not a silver bullet. There is no such thing, and we all know it. There are a few labs I don’t do from the manual, and others that I’ve added into my curriculum - for instance, my students still do a very traditional “find the molar mass of a volatile molecule” lab. However, these POGIL style labs have helped my students find a deeper level of understanding of content (and I have as well), so I thought I’d share.

Publication information
Pick Attribution: 

Contributing POGIL Authors

  •   Rick Moog, Director of The POGIL Project; Professor of Chemistry, Franklin & Marshall College

  •   Laura Trout, Editor-in-Chief for the High School POGIL Initiative; Science Department Chair,

    Lancaster Country Day School, Lead Author

  •   Melissa Hemling, Chemistry Instructor and Science Department Chair, Beaver Dam High School

  •   Stephen Prilliman, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Oklahoma City University

  •   Amanda Zullo, Associate Editor for the High School POGIL Initiative; Chemistry Instructor, Saranac Lake High School

  •   Cameron Rekully, Graduate Student, University of South Carolina

    PASCO Development Team

  •   Freda Husic, Director of Education Solutions, Program Manager

  •   Tom Loschiavo, Chemistry Education Manager

  •   Ronn Fieldhouse, Chemistry Curriculum and Training Specialist

  •   Janet Miller, Lead Editor

  •   Brennan Collins, Graphics and Production 

Publication Date: 
Saturday, September 5, 2015
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Comments 3

Erica Posthuma's picture
Erica Posthuma | Mon, 09/07/2015 - 10:32

I just recieved my copy of this book!  Looking forward to testing out some of the labs this year!  Do you have a favorite?

Brenda Gelinas | Tue, 09/08/2015 - 09:58

I have all vernier equipment. Would the lab book be useful to me if I don't have Pasco equipment?

Tracy Schloemer's picture
Tracy Schloemer | Tue, 09/08/2015 - 19:41


1. Favorite labs - each one has its highlights! These stick out to me after a loooooong day at work.

- empirical formula - use spectroscopy AND knowledge of empirical formula together (as one student said this year: You can do that??? HAHA!)

- electrochem lab is awesome too

2. I have all vernier equipment - easy to edit! Be warned though- vernier colorimeters and pasco colorimeters have different wavelengths of light (learned that the hard way...).