Monmouth County Private High School – Chemistry Lab
This chemistry lab class is designed to offer a more practical and hands-on aspect to the Chemistry class for High School students. The skills attained during this lab will allow students to become familiar with laboratory equipment, supplies, safety, and techniques.
The students will understand:
- the scientific process with regard to experiments.
- proper format of technical documents such as lab reports.
- proper use of laboratory equipment.
- laboratory safety procedures.
- how to set up an experiment.
In the Chemistry Lab , students began by exploring the colorful milk experiment and practiced their skills of recording and observation as they reaction of soap and the fats within milk created motion in the form of swirling colors. They then adjusted the experiment to see what if anything they could change based on their understanding of what happened the first time.
Students then undertook an experiment using Borax, sugar and salt in order to understand how dissolved solids reform. In the process, they created Halloween ornaments with which to decorate the classroom. Students were able to see how, without precision, their experiments could fail. Precision and accurate recording of observation we integral to their understanding.
Students have been working together and individually on designing a composting system for the school. They were asked to include an understanding of the school’s outputs in their design. Once spring comes they will begin building and maintenance of this system, which we will then use to do further chemistry experiments.
Students have begun to share their burgeoning interest in chemistry with the rest of the class. Our first presentation lab was the extraction of whey protein from milk for a smoothie contest. The next project explored the changing states of matter to which heat has been applied.
The students started the lab course with a lab that demonstrated proper measuring techniques. During this assignment, students learned how to properly and accurately measure the mass and volume of irregularly shaped objects. From these figures, the density of the objects was determined. Students then learned the requirements and structure of a lab report.
The second lab of the session required the students to calculate the heat of reaction for two different chemicals. Working in small groups, students added chemical compounds to a known amount of water and recorded the resulting temperature change of a period of several minutes. From this data, each student was able of determine whether each reaction was endothermic or exothermic, as well as the heat of solution of the chemicals.
The next experiment the students conducted tested the number of calories released by common snack foods. Students used a match to set corn chips and other snack food alight. They transferred the heat to a measured quantity of water. From this data, they were able to calculate the amount of calories per gram of each of the foods.
The fourth experiment of the session had the students determining the differences in boiling point of various concentrations of salt water. In small groups, students measured quantities of water and sodium chloride and set up lab equipment to bring the water to a boil. Students measured the temperature in specific intervals to determine the boiling point of the solution. In their lab report, the students graphed the data and compared the characteristics of the various solutions.
The final experiment of the session consisted of first removing copper oxide from pennies. Students then used the copper ions to copper plate steel objects. The students learned about the role electrolytes play in chemical reactions, and how different metals react in unique ways.
In the spring session, the students had an opportunity to drive the direction of experiments while still following topics learned in the chemistry class. The first of the experiment in the session came from the students interest in food science. After learning about various carbohydrates the class conducted experiments involving how the ratio of carbohydrates affected chemical reactions. In this instance, the students studied how the amount of sucrose affected the gelling properties of pectin. Students experimented with different quantities of sugars when making grape jelly, using laboratory equipment to vary and record the results.
The second experiment regarding food science was based on the role yeast plays in many foods. Students studied the life cycle and mechanisms of reproduction of yeast cells as well as the processing of sugars to carbon dioxide and ethanol. As a final experiment, the students used their knowledge of yeast to create ginger ale soda from fresh ingredients and used yeast to carbonate the drink while minimizing ethanol production.
The next experiment required multiple weeks of lab and theory to complete. The final result will be the manufacture and testing of a solid rocket motor based on sucrose as a fuel and potassium nitrate as an oxidizer. Students needed to understand the physics of motors as well as construction techniques of engines. The students used various ratios of fuel to oxidizer to determine the best proportion to maximize thrust. Students safely mixed and cooked the fuel before assembling and testing the engines.
To date, the students learned about and demonstrated proficiency in:
identifying and using lab equipment (triple beam balance, graduated cylinders, bunsen burners, thermometers).
- The scientific process and repeatability of experiments.
- Proper format of lab reports.
- Laboratory safety procedures.
- How to set up an experiment.
- How the chemistry of everyday life such as food works.
- How to safely work with more dangerous chemicals.
- How to follow complex procedures.
TEACHER: Richard Knab