Session S9a (Sunday, 2pm, Life Sciences 013)

P52: End of cookbook chemistry experiments: Student-designed procedures

Laura Lanni (Newberry College, USA)

When students blindly follow prescribed procedures during a laboratory experiment, they seldom understand why they are doing each step. They simply follow along haphazardly hoping to finish quickly. Understanding is not maximized and often the purpose of the experiment is lost. Charging students with the task of developing their own procedure makes the experiment become real. Scientific method is blatantly explored. Success in the lab is celebrated. Examples of experiments which have been successfully explored in this way span student abilities from an introduction to procedure writing in making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, to a combination of stoichiometry, limiting reagents, and gas laws in filling a Ziploc bag with carbon dioxide gas, to the reasoning challenge of experimental determination of an equilibrium constant, and finally to synthesis and purification of an ester. Approaches used to encourage students to face this challenge, embrace it, and succeed, will be presented.


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