Teacher’s Talk: Advanced Investigations in Chemistry (Day 4 -Gas Laws!)

It has been an exciting few days here in the Advanced Investigations in Chemistry lab. The students have been learning about Gas Laws. After having a short amount of lecture time, the students jumped right into the lab setting. The first lab of the series dealt with the Combined Gas Law and Dalton’s Law. During this lab students investigated the two labs by investigating the displacement of air by water. Students were able to see that as temperature of a gas changes the volume also changes.

The second lab of the series dealt with the Ideal Gas Law and Graham’s Law. During this lab, students investigated the universal gas constant R, and they also observed the effect of molar mass on velocity. The ideal gas law lab was done by placing a strip of magnesium and a copper wire in a gas collection tube and combining it with Hydrochloric Acid to produce Hydrogen gas. The third and fourth labs of the series dealt with students investigating methods to determine the presence of Hydrogen and Carbon Dioxide gas. Students generated both gases and performed various qualitative test including support of combustion.

Students are ending the week with a cumulative lab, where they experiment with an unknown compound and perform a series of tests. By the end of the lab, students should be able to determine the identity of the unknown by mathematically formulating the chemical formula. The last part of class will involve a review section and an exam that will assess student understanding of concepts taught this weeks and the related lab experience.

One of the goals of this class is for students to experience upper level laboratory practices so they are better prepared for collegiate and industrial applications. We find many of our students have not been able to have a strong laboratory experience in the high school setting and this class has allowed students to utilize laboratory equipment and chemicals that are often not available at their high schools, allowing students to perform inquiry-based discovery labs and analyze data as chemist do in the real world. Students have performed a multitude of collegiate level, advanced chemistry labs. Students are also solving textbook problems that help them understand the meaning of the chemical concepts being investigated. We hope that students are finding a strong connection between conceptual understanding and laboratory practices.


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