The students and teachers are off to a quick start here at VAMPY 2014 in the Advanced Investigations in Chemistry class. The goal of our class is to cover concepts that are not typically taught in an introductory chemistry class and to use an investigative approach where students will experience what chemists do in a research setting. The class is heavily lab based, counting for over 50% of daily activities, where students use a heavy amount of problem-solving skills.
The students have been reviewing basic chemistry skills and getting familiar with some of the lab equipment. To understand these concepts the students opened up with two labs that included using Lab Quest probes and Antifreeze. By using the Lab Quest probes the students were able to investigate and track the temperature of water as it was heated and cooled. This was a basic lab that helped get students introduced into the lab environment. It was also the introduction to our investigative approach in which students are given a researchable question. Each group must then come up with their own procedures and lab techniques to test their researchable question and analyze data obtained from the experiments. The second lab included a more advanced approach in which students used their “investigative” approach to determine the molar mass of Antifreeze.
Today, we introduced a chemical reaction lab in which students were able to combine many different reagents. When these reagents were combined, the students were able to make observations and were able to make connections between concepts and laboratory practice. One reaction that many students found interesting was the heating of Ammonium Dichromate. When heat was applied, the bright orange solid goes through a spontaneous expansion and turns into a larger volume of a green solid. The second lab of the day dealt with students combining various aqueous reagents and observing precipitation reactions. In total, students were able to perform a minimum of 25 chemical reactions along with completing various problems and worksheets.
We have gotten off to a great start and look forward to the upcoming weeks at VAMPY!