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Project Information

List of Experiments, Descriptions of Expts, Clickable Summary Picture

01, Cu Again! - A Copper Cycle Description Experiment
02, The Nature of a Chemical Reaction Description Experiment
03, Measurement and Uncertainty Description Experiment
04, It's in the Cards - Investigating Patterns Description   Experiment
05, What is the Copper Formula? Description   Experiment
06, Formula of a Blue Hydrate Description   Experiment
07, Determining a Molecular Formula Description   Experiment
08, Identifying Chemical Activity Description   Experiment
09, The Ion Exchange (Which Salts are Soluble?) Description   Experiment
10, The Identification of Ions Description   Experiment
11, pH of Familiar Products Description   Experiment
12, Soaps vs. Detergents Description    Experiment
13, Kinetics: A Study of Reaction Rates Description   Experiment
14, Disturbing an Equilibrium System Description   Experiment
15, How to Copper Plate Your Car Keys Description    Experiment
16, Heat of Vaporization of Liquid Nitrogen Description   Experiment
17, How Bonding Affects Acidity Description   Experiment
18, Searching for the Copper Ion Description   Experiment

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Descriptions of Experiments

01, Cu Again! - A Copper Cycle
Chemical reactions are often accompanied by formation of a precipitate, evolution of gas, change in color, or pronounced temperature change. In this activity, you will observe these characteristics of chemical reactions. Enjoy the variety!

To recognize that change of state, change in color, formation of a precipitate, or the evolution of heat are associated with a chemical change; to study reactions of copper.

02, The Nature of a Chemical Reaction
Changes go on about you all the time. Some changes are chemical changes, such as gasoline burning or a nail rusting. But what is happening when a chemical change occurs? What is the nature of a chemical reaction?

To examine the behavior of matter in a chemical reaction, focusing on the behavior of the individual particles of each substance involved.

03, Measurement and Uncertainty
Everyone deals with measurements every day. We hear statements such as
“The time at the tone is 10 p.m.”
“It is currently 79 degrees and sunny.”
“7.82 gallons of gas - That will be $8.60.”

The measured values in these three statements are printed in boldface type. Are these and other measurements always exact? An exact measurement is a perfectly correct value containing no error. Right now, before you begin this activity, select the one statement below you think is most correct.

A. Measurements are exact if correctly done.
B. Measurements may or may not be exact. It depends who did them and how they were done.
C. There is some inexactness in every measurement.

To study the nature of measurement and gather data which will help determine whether statement A, B, or C is most correct; to determine whether matter is conserved.

04, It’s in the Cards - Investigating Patterns
In Part I, you will use information provided on cards to organize these cards in a particular pattern. Then, in Part III, you will conduct a laboratory exploration of some chemical properties of a few elements and examine the regularities in these properties. The properties observed for the elements will be used to predict the properties of other elements.

To use periodic properties as a tool for organizing and predicting properties of elements.

05, What is the Copper Formula?
All compounds have a definite composition in terms of the relative masses and the number of atoms of elements. However, the same elements may unite in different ratios. Compounds often can be identified by the relative amount of a particular element they contain. For example, by knowing the amount of copper that can be removed from a copper compound, the formula of the compound can be selected from a number of possible choices.

To determine experimentally the percent copper in a compound and to select the formula of that copper-containing compound from a list of possible formulas.

06, Formula of a Blue Hydrate
Hydrates have a variety of practical applications. Their ability to gain or lose their waters of hydration makes them versatile. One formula unit of a hydrate contains one formula unit of an anhydride bonded to a fixed number of water molecules. Careful heating removes the water so that the ratio of water molecules to anhydride formula units can be determined, provided the molar mass of the anhydride is known. A hydrate is represented by the formula of the anhydride followed by a raised dot which represents the "weak" bond between the anhydride and the number of water molecules, i.e. MgSO4•7H2O.

To determine the formula of a blue hydrate.

07, Determining a Molecular Formula
The molecular (true) formula for a substance is not always the same as its empirical (simplest) formula. Both acetylene and benzene have the empirical formula CH. However, the molar mass for acetylene is 26 g/mol, while the molar mass of benzene is 78 g/mol. This is because the molecular formula for acetylene is C2H2 while the molecular formula for benzene is C6H6.

To determine the molar mass of a gaseous substance and to use this value to find the molecular formula of the substance.

08, Identifying Chemical Activity
“Silver and Gold Coins Recovered from Ocean Shipwreck” is a possible news headline, while “Iron Coins Recovered...” would be less likely to appear. The differences in reactivity among metals is very important in selecting building materials and the types of products we use.

To determine the relative reactivity of several metallic elements.

09, The Ion Exchange (Which Salts are Soluble?)
What do stalagmites and stalactites found in caverns have in common with the deposits found on old water faucets? How were many minerals, now mined as ores, originally formed? The answers to both questions can be found in a study of precipitates. If a positive ion (cation) of a dissolved salt reacts with the negative ion (anion) of a different compound to form a new salt with low solubility, chemists say that a precipitate has formed.

To determine which ions react to produce precipitates by analyzing data regarding mixtures of ionic compounds.

10, The Identification of Ions
To verify the presence of a certain ion in solution, the properties of the ion must be known. In this activity, you will determine the relative solubilities of compounds formed from alkaline earth metal ions. The alkaline earth elements (magnesium, calcium, strontium, and barium) are all members of the same family of the periodic table. Also, you will devise and use a scheme to identify these ions in a solution.

To determine the relative solubilities of sulfates, oxalates, chromates, and carbonates of the alkaline earth metals and to use that information to analyze an unknown solution containing one alkaline earth cation.

11, pH of Familiar Products
The numerical scale called pH indicates how acidic or basic an aqueous (water) solution is, or whether that solution is neutral. Many products we use daily for personal hygiene, home and auto care, or eating and drinking are suitable for pH testing. For this laboratory activity, you may bring to class as many products, in their original, closed containers, as you wish to test.

To determine the pH of common household products and classify each based on its acidic or basic properties using the pH scale.

12, Soaps vs. Detergents
Water that contains calcium ions, Ca2+, and magnesium ions, Mg2+, is said to be hard water. These ions are leached from ground water flowing over rock formations containing limestone and other minerals. Hard water interferes with the cleaning action of soaps.

When soap is added to hard water, insoluble compounds form which appear as sticky scum. This scum leaves a deposit on clothes, skin, and hair. You could have ring around the collar!

When boiled, hard water leaves a deposit of calcium carbonate, CaCO3. This scale builds up in tea kettles and inside hot water heaters.

Detergents have replaced soap for many cleaning jobs around the home.

The development of synthetic detergents by chemists was a great advantage for people with relatively hard tap water in their homes.

Do you know whether the tap water used in your home is soft or hard? How could you test it to find out? Why do you use detergents for many household cleaning jobs? These are some of the questions you will be able to answer after completing this laboratory investigation.

To investigate the chemical action of soap vs. detergents in hard water and the use of a precipitation reaction to soften hard water.

13, Kinetics: A Study of Reaction Rates
Have you ever wondered how chemists slow down reactions that are potentially explosive or speed up reactions to synthesize a product in a shorter period of time? In this laboratory activity, we will use a familiar reaction:

Mg(s) + 2 HCl(aq) --> MgCl2(aq) + H2(g)

to investigate this problem. The rate may be measured in several different ways. For example, it may be expressed as the volume of H2 gas produced per second or as the mass of magnesium metal used per second.

To design a procedure to measure the rate or speed of the Mg/HCl reaction. You will then identify two factors other than catalysis to alter the speed of this reaction and examine each factor quantitatively.

14, Disturbing an Equilibrium System
Many chemical reactions reach a state of equilibrium if conditions are right. In an equilibrium system, forward and reverse reactions occur at equal rates so that no net change is produced. When equilibrium is reached by a reaction in a test tube, it appears that changes have stopped in the tube. Once equilibrium has been reached, is it possible to produce further observable changes in the tube? If so, can you control the kinds of changes? If not, why are further observable changes impossible? You will observe several chemical systems in this laboratory activity. A careful study of your observations will enable you to answer these questions.

To study factors which can disturb an equilibrium system.

15, How to Copper Plate Your Car Keys
Electroplating can be used to deposit a layer of metal such as chromium, copper, gold, nickel, or zinc on another metal. This deposit can provide a protective and decorative coating for the metal which lies beneath it. This laboratory activity will show you how to electroplate a copper coating on a car key or other suitable metallic object.

To investigate the mass changes, if any, at each electrode during electroplating and to calculate the charge on the copper ion through application of Faraday’s Laws.

16, Heat of Vaporization of Liquid Nitrogen
Nitrogen, the major component of air, is a gas at room temperature with the formula N2(g). It can be stored in its liquid form in a specially insulated bottle called a Dewar flask. In this laboratory activity, you will determine the energy needed to vaporize (boil) liquid nitrogen by letting a known mass interact with warm water. The energy given up by the warm water will cause the nitrogen to boil until it is completely converted to gaseous nitrogen. This energy is called the heat of vaporization.

To determine the heat energy needed to vaporize (boil) one gram of liquid nitrogen.

17, How Bonding Affects Acidity
In many common acids you have used in laboratory work, all hydrogens are acidic. This is true for acids such as sulfuric acid, H2SO4, nitric acid, HNO3, and hydrochloric acid, HCl. In this laboratory activity, you will learn that only some hydrogens within selected acid molecules may be capable of forming H+.

To determine experimentally the number of ionizable H± in an unknown solid acid and to form hypotheses regarding relations between bonding and acidity.

18, Searching for the Copper Ion
Volumetric or gravimetric determination of ions can be quite complicated and time consuming. At times ion concentrations are too low to be determined with accuracy. When this occurs chemists will consider using an instrument that measures the quantity of light energy that is absorbed by dissolved ions as light is passed through the solution. A colorimeter or spectrophotometer can be used as the tool to determine the concentration of these solutions. If the ions do not produce an intensely colored solution they can sometimes be converted to complex ions that are brightly colored, absorbing light in the visible range. A typical example is Cu2+ ion which is converted to the intensely colored Cu(NH3)42+ ion by addition of concentrated aqueous ammonia NH3(aq). The percent transmittance at various concentrations is collected and graphed to determine the concentration of copper(II) in an unknown solution.

To learn how a spectrophotometer can be used to determine the concentration of a colored solution.

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SummaryClickable Summary of Relative Content

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Project Information

Model Laboratory Activities
Modes of Assessment
Checklist of Items to Assess in the Laboratory
Rules of Laboratory Conduct
Organization Student's Manual
Organization Teacher's Guide
Project Personnel


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Perspectives on Laboratory-Based Chemistry Rationale for Laboratory-Based Learning

“What does the laboratory accomplish that could not be accomplished as well by less expensive and time-consuming alternatives?” This question, posed by Bates in 1978, has not yet been satisfactorily answered. (Tobin, K.) There is a trend away from using laboratory instruction in chemistry for a variety of reasons. Some school boards express concern about its expense, some teachers note that it is messy and time-consuming, the public often says it is too dangerous. Yet, many experienced teachers believe that laboratory activity is at the very heart of chemistry instruction. Bates also suggested, “Teachers who believe that the laboratory accomplishes something special for their students would do well to consider carefully what these outcomes might be and then to find ways to measure them.”

In the summer of 1987, Dr. Marjorie Gardner at the Lawrence Hall of Science convened a select group of award-winning high school chemistry teachers to address this challenge. Participants in the Institute for Chemical Education (ICE) Laboratory Leadership Workshop over the summers of 1987-89 agreed that laboratory experiences are an integral part of the high school chemistry course. Students generally enjoy laboratory work--often the only time in a school day they are actively engaged and involved. However, if the expense and inconvenience of laboratory programs are to be justified, the benefits must be more substantive than mere enjoyment. The laboratory provides opportunities for students to experience the reality of chemistry rather than merely learning isolated concepts, facts, skills, and theories.

The laboratory experience can provide a dynamic encounter between students and their environment. In the laboratory the teacher provides a safe, supportive environment for students, one where they feel free to explore and investigate. Within this environment, students complete tasks that are structured enough so that they do not feel lost or confused, but not so structured that they find it unnecessary to think for themselves. During a laboratory activity, a student’s hands, mind, eyes and other senses are focused on the task at hand, thus enhancing opportunities for cognitive and personal growth. “Hands on” activities are a necessary but hardly sufficient part of such experiences. In fact, “hands on” tasks alone may represent little more than mindless manipulation and direction-following. When asked what they are doing during such a laboratory activity, students may respond “Oh, I'm on Step 6.” The major cognitive skill being cultivated in such a setting is accurately following written instructions.

For maximum learning benefits, laboratory activities must be “minds on” as well as “hands on.” It has been noted that one difference between the professional chemist and the novice is that the professional routinely creates mental pictures of molecular-scale systems and events. George Pimentel once observed that a chemist sees one thing and thinks another. When student minds are actively involved at the laboratory bench, they learn how to form such “pictures in the mind,” thus allowing them to add a sense of order and rationality to their activities and observations, and suggesting reasons for the changes noted. Such a “minds on” approach gives students the opportunity to grow intellectually and to increase their problem solving and critical thinking skills.

In short, the high school chemistry laboratory can be a place where students learn cognitive and psychomotor skills and enjoy doing it. The essential ingredients include well-designed laboratory activities and a knowledgeable, enthusiastic teacher.

Laboratory-based chemistry teaching involves substantial investments in funds, time, resources, and instructional effort--investments well beyond those required to support “chalk and talk” lecture-style teaching. Historically, chemistry educators have often justified these investments by two related arguments: that “doing chemistry” is an integral part of learning chemistry, and that the acquisition of chemical knowledge, skills and attitudes somehow emerges from asking questions related to the activity in the laboratory.

It’s reasonable, particularly in light of such significant investments by school systems, classroom teachers and students, that the results of laboratory-based chemistry instruction be assessed and documented. It’s also reasonable that a portion of each students’ course grade be influenced by reliable laboratory-based performance scores, in light of the time and effort teachers and students devote to this approach.

Both agendas presuppose that the intended purposes of laboratory-based chemistry teaching are known and, equally importantly, that the laboratory activities are explicitly designed to help attain these ends. It is important that assessment match the desired laboratory outcomes. Outcomes may vary from those tied to one or more specific laboratory activities (for example, learning how to determine the concentration of an unknown base through acid titration) to more global laboratory-based learning supported by an entire course (for example, learning how to process and interpret data).

Benjamin Bloom and co-workers provided one useful framework over 30 years ago for classifying learning outcomes (Bloom: Formative and Summative Evaluation) based on the notion that educational goals can be placed into three non-exclusive categories -- the familiar psychomotor, cognitive, and affective domains. Rephrased as acting, knowing and feeling, the three domains simply reflect central features of human behavior. The wide range of possible student learning associated with well-designed laboratory activities (and thus the potential range of laboratory based assessment) can be mapped in terms of Bloom’s categories.

Psychomotor outcomes include all the manipulative, “hands-on, minds-on” skills chemistry students are called upon to cultivate and use, ranging from reading a buret meniscus to suitable precision, to decanting the supernatant liquid from a precipitate, to adjusting a gas burner to a specified temperature range, to graphing data. In laboratory settings, less obvious psychomotor skills also extend to maintaining a readable laboratory notebook, taking prompt, effective action when common laboratory hazards are encountered, and even adjusting elastic bands on safety goggles to prevent “red rings” on faces.

Affective aspects of laboratory instruction relate to student interests, attitudes, motivation, and values. These outcomes range from generalized student like or dislike for laboratory activity to cultivation of scientific attitudes and values (such as willingness to consider alternative hypotheses and reporting data fully and honestly.) One commonly-expressed affective aim for laboratory-based instruction is that students will find it an enjoyable, rewarding experience.

Cognitive outcomes center on student acquisition of content, process, and higher order thinking skills. Bloom’s Cognitive Taxon-omy classifies these objectives in a hier-archy: Knowledge, Comprehension, Appli-cation, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation.

Despite the “neatness” of a division of learning outcomes into the three domains described above, there is strong overlap and interaction among these categories. The formal classification reminds us that the range of student learning outcomes, and therefore assessment possibilities, is far richer and more complex than the “knowing-what” and “knowing-that” focus which characterizes much of formal schooling. As this monograph documents, laboratory-based chemistry teaching is uniquely suited to furthering student growth within all three domains.

Assessment items, like the laboratory activities themselves, should not be limited to lower level knowledge skills. However, assessment of higher order skills is not feasible if the laboratory activities were not originally designed to develop these skills. It is unfair to ask a student to control variables or design experiments if they have never had opportunities to practice these skills.

The ICE Laboratory Leadership Workshop participants examined laboratory activity manuals and found few examples designed to improve problem solving and critical thinking skills. With appropriate modifications of procedures and data analysis steps, common laboratory activities have the potential to develop these skills. The chemical and physical changes which provide the basis for the activities in this monograph are very familiar to teachers. The ways in which they are presented are different. Together they provide the opportunities to develop skills of observing, classifying, predicting, communicating, interpreting data, controlling variables, and modifying and designing experiments.

Each assessment item in this monograph is aligned with what is taught in the activity it accompanies. Assessment items are presented in a variety of formats (modes). The next section describes the many modes of laboratory assessment explored and demonstrated in this monograph.

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Modes of Assessment

The modes of assessment described below are directed specifically toward the evaluation of student learning that occurs in the chemistry laboratory. These assessment techniques have been incorporated into the laboratory activities in this monograph to enrich the role of the laboratory in the study of chemistry.

Laboratory Practical
A laboratory practical requires students to demonstrate their knowledge and/or skill by performing tasks in the laboratory. Through a laboratory practical, the teacher is able to assess a student’s ability to recognize and manipulate equipment, follow directions, demonstrate correct technique, analyze an unknown, or design and execute an experiment.

Written Exercises
Laboratory-based pencil/paper questions (used either in assignments or in a test setting) can reinforce the importance of laboratory work. A variety of question types can be used to assess all levels of cognitive ability associated with laboratory activities. Many different types of pencil/paper questions are available in the eighteen laboratory activities included in this monograph.

Performance Checks
A check list focuses attention on individual components of a complex task and allows the teacher to evaluate student performance of laboratory work more objectively. Evaluation by check list can focus on student manipulative skills, overall behavior in the laboratory, or written work.

Check points are specific points in the student procedure which require the student to obtain teacher’s initials before work is continued. These points provide the teacher an opportunity to verify that directions have been followed, that correct lab techniques have been used, or that students understand what they are doing. By initialing, the teacher validates student work up to the check point.

Teacher Demonstrations
A teacher demonstration blends the laboratory practical and pencil/paper formats. As (or after) the teacher demonstrates a property, reaction, relationship, or principle, students write explanations of what they have observed or answer questions related to their observations.

Laboratory Journals
A journal is both a chronological record of a student’s laboratory work and a means by which the student can record analyses and interpretation of data, conclusions, and understandings gained. Journals can also be used for recording pre-lab summaries of procedures, verbal instructions, and hypotheses. During the laboratory activity students can use journal entries to record revisions in procedure, modified hypotheses, or questions which occur to them.

Students can answer many of their questions themselves if they are willing to spend some time doing independent work. They can plan an experiment in their journals and submit the procedure for teacher approval. In this way, the journal acts as a research book. Such extended student investigations may eventually become science fair projects.

Laboratory Reports
In a formal laboratory report, students describe the problem undertaken, the methods and materials used, the data collected, the conclusions drawn, and the arguments supporting the conclusions. Laboratory reports should reflect high-level thinking skills and should not include completion items from a manual or answers to lists of questions.

Other Reports
While some students thrive on the structure of a journal or formal laboratory report, others benefit more from less structured approaches. Other report styles include poems, plays or drawings, abstract writing, and executive summaries. Each has its place in promoting student understanding and can be used to assess the learning that takes place in the laboratory.

Pictures in the Mind
Professor Dorothy Gabel, Indiana University, discussed with the Laboratory Leadership Group the topic of student conceptions and misconceptions concerning the particulate nature of matter. Incorrect or incomplete understanding of the particle model persists even among university students. Without this understanding it is difficult to explain chemical reactions, changes in state, and stoichiometry. The term pictures in the mind has been coined. Some questions that follow the activities in this monograph ask students to focus on the atomic and molecular level and to diagram what they think is happening. This visualizing of particles should help students better understand chemical and physical reactions and form a view of the microscopic world consistent with that of chemists. Assessment requiring students to create "pictures in the mind" on paper provides a valuable tool for teachers to check student understanding.

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Checklist of Items to Assess in the Laboratory

  1. Following instructions.
  2. Selecting appropriate apparatus.
  3. Using appropriate manipulative skills.
  4. Conducting experiments safely.
  5. Making accurate observations and measurements.
  6. Recording results and observations accurately and clearly.
  7. Presenting experimental results clearly.
  8. Interpreting and evaluating observations and data.
  9. Drawing conclusions and making generalizations from experiments.
  10. Planning and organizing experimental investigations.
  11. Identifying problems.
  12. Evaluating methods and suggesting improvements.
  13. Communicating plans and results.
  14. Identifying and controlling variables.

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Introduction to Model Laboratory Activities
Overview of the Laboratory Component

The diagram below was developed as a graphic tool, to attempt to identify the major components of laboratory instruction in science. (See Appendix for full size version) A significant step was the attempt to select specific observable behaviors that students exhibit in a laboratory setting. By attempting to identify the full spectrum of the laboratory experience for all science courses, it became clear that the following three aspects were major components in any science laboratory.

  1. SUBJECT MATTER is approached from a totally different perspective. Students see that facts are not only in a textbook, but can be based on their own observations. Patterns are formed from these personal observations; students experience an authentic need to communicate these patterns that they have discerned.
  2. Equally important is the dimension of PERSONAL GROWTH which comes out of students’ struggle to build self-confidence, to work as part of a team, and finally to see themselves as an integral part of society and to realize that they are capable of understanding major social concerns.
  3. Finally, the DECISION MAKING dimension is a natural outcome of students’ decisions to become involved in the task at hand, their ability to develop critical thinking skills and finally to see science as a creative outlet for their energies and ideas.

This triangular graphic of the Overview of the Laboratory Component is intended to offer the following insights for the teacher:

The goal would be that all of the components of the model are touched upon sometime during the course. Laboratory activity should not provide a steady diet within only one dimension, but should be seen as a crucial tool capable of affecting the whole student.

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On Sunday, July 20, 1987, 20 award-winning chemistry teachers, winners of Presidential Excellence awards, Conant, or Catalyst awards gathered at the Lawrence Hall of Science for two weeks to investigate the role of the Laboratory in high school chemistry. The charge given to the group was 1) to define the contemporary role of the laboratory as part of secondary school chemistry instruction by more clearly identifying knowledge, skills, and attitudes students should be able to demonstrate as a result of their laboratory learning, 2) to develop assessment methods and items designed to measure and reward the student learning that occurs in the laboratory that include more than paper and pencil mode and can be administered nationally as well as locally, 3) To plan for revision and further development experiments that address questions of skills, knowledge, cost and safety, and take into account the growing presence of the computer as an interfacing instrument. The group began work by focusing on three questions: 1) What is the role of the laboratory? 2) What is meant by laboratory work? 3) What factors affect the amount of laboratory experiences provided?

Brainstorming, consultation with content and evaluation experts and discussion techniques were used to encourage involvement by all participants. Large and small group formats were used. Questions were posed in a large group, explored in depth in small groups and rediscussed in a large group until, if possible, a consensus was reached.

By the end of the first summer’s effort, the group had identified the primary barriers that inhibit laboratory teaching and developed strategies for overcoming them. A Provocative Opinion article was written and published in the Journal of Chemical Education to call attention to safety issues and the danger of overreaction, and a matrix diagram was developed that formed a theoretical and philosophical overview for assessment (See Appendices). A decision was made that it would be necessary to select and further develop some specific laboratory activities in order to have a variety of activities for teacher use. These modified activities encouraged assessment of higher order learning and values that develop in laboratory work.

In the summer of 1988, the work continued, building upon the effort of 1987, with five new participants. The charge to the group for the summer of 1988 was 1) to develop a document clearly identifying the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that students should be able to demonstrate as a result of laboratory learning; 2) to select, revise, or create a set of laboratory activities consistent with the characteristics described in the document; 3) to develop assessment items for each laboratory activity that could be tested by participants in their own classrooms during the academic year to provide feedback from this experience for use by the group in the summer of 1989. Dorothy Gabel from Indiana University and Henry Heikkinen from the University of Northern Colorado worked with the group as consultants.

As a result of the second summer’s work, eighteen laboratory activities were identified to be developed by the laboratory assessment group. These activities were not necessarily new or innovative. They did, however, spread chronologically across most of a year’s general chemistry teaching at the secondary school level and they did feature various patterns of laboratory activity including computer interfacing, microscale techniques, and a variety of hands-on, minds-on efforts to make important concepts of chemistry very understandable to high school students.

During the academic year 1988-89 the teachers tested these laboratory activities and accompanying rough-draft laboratory assessment items in their classrooms and provided feedback both at the NSTA National meeting in Seattle in April of 1989 and when they returned to the Berkeley campus in July of 1989.

With the involvement of six new participants, the intensive pace was stepped up even further in Summer '89. Pat Smith served as Director, as she had throughout the three year experience, and Henry Heikkinen served as co-director. A decision was made not only to produce a final report but to produce a monograph that could be shared with teachers in all parts of the country. To this end, the first effort was to cut the list of eighteen laboratory activities to approximately ten. However, the group decision was to preserve all eighteen since they provided a range of experiences. Each activity was checked by the ICE Fundamentals group at Berkeley and again by the members of the ICE Leadership Group. They were refined and the laboratory assessment items carefully upgraded to test knowledge and understanding beyond simple recall or verification. The manuscript for this laboratory assessment monograph was completed in rough draft form by the end of the summer.

It has since been edited by Henry Heikkinen, with help from Amy Hansen. The Safety Committee of the American Chemical Society, under the Chairmanship of Stanley Pine, has checked all of the activities for safety. The final product appears in this monograph; we hope that it will be a step forward in assessment and of value to teachers individually in the classrooms as well as to testing organizations who are looking for ways to assess more effectively the learning that occurs in the laboratory. We know intuitively, anecdotally, and realistically that learning in the laboratory is an essential part of a student’s understanding of chemistry and science. Now perhaps we have better ways to document that.

The individuals who developed this monograph are listed on the back of the title page. In addition I would like to recognize the production contributions made by Precious Perry, Augustus Schoen-René, Marilyn Dromgoole and Terry Slocum.

Marjorie Gardner
Principal Investigator

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Have you ever been concerned that learning that takes place in the laboratory often does not appear on tests? Are you weary of grading laboratory reports that reward students who can write rather those who do the best laboratory work? The Laboratory Leadership Group was concerned about these questions. More than 30 teachers spent three summers developing this monograph to present laboratory activities in a way that would maximize learning and then to assess the learning that takes place.

The activities chosen are familiar ones cast in a new mode. Each includes paper-pencil and practical assessment items. The data analysis and concept development are structured to require the students to do more of their own thinking. The questions are thought provoking. A glance at the matrix (p.xiv) will show you the features of each activity. Each activity has extensive Teachers’ Notes. Perhaps you will want to include one or more of these activities in your chemistry program.

The activities in the monograph are too limited to constitute a complete laboratory course. However, they may serve as models to guide you in modifying your favorite activities. The wide variety of assessment item types may give you ideas for creating items of your own.

This monograph is intended as a first step in assessing the learning that takes place in high school chemistry laboratory. We hope you will find it useful. When students ask whther what they learn in the laboratory will be on the test, you can say, “Yes!”

Patricia Smith
Director, Laboratory Leadership Group

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Safety in the Laboratory
Share the following with your students

You frequently will perform laboratory activities. While no human activity is completely risk free, if you use common sense and a bit of chemical sense, you will encounter no problems. Chemical sense is an extension of common sense. Sensible laboratory conduct won’t happen by memorizing a list of rules, any more than a perfect score on a written driver’s test ensures an excellent driving record. The true driver’s test of chemical sense is your actual conduct in the laboratory.

The following safety pointers apply to all laboratory activities. For your personal safety and that of your classmates, make following these guidelines second nature in the laboratory. Your teacher will point out any special safety guidelines that apply to each activity.

If you understand the reasons behind them, these safety rules will be easy to remember and to follow. So, for each listed safety guideline:

Rules of Laboratory Conduct

  1. Perform laboratory work only when your teacher is present. Unauthorized or unsupervised laboratory experimenting is not allowed.
  2. Your concern for safety should begin even before the first activity. Always read and think about each laboratory assignment before starting.
  3. Know the location and use of all safety equipment in your laboratory. These should include the safety shower, eye wash, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher and blanket.
  4. Wear a laboratory coat or apron and protective glasses or goggles for all laboratory work. Wear shoes (rather than sandals) and tie back loose hair.
  5. Clear your benchtop of all unnecessary material such as books and clothing before starting your work.
  6. Check chemical labels twice to make sure you have the correct substance. Some chemical formulas and names may differ by only a letter or a number.
  7. You may be asked to transfer some laboratory chemicals from a common bottle or jar to your own test tube or beaker. Do not return any excess material to its original container unless authorized by your teacher.
  8. Avoid unnecessary movement and talk in the laboratory.
  9. Never taste laboratory materials. Gum, food or drinks should not be brought into the laboratory. If you are instructed to smell something, do so by fanning some of the vapor toward your nose. Do not place your nose near the opening of the container. Your teacher will show you the correct technique.
  10. Never look directly down into a test tube; view the contents from the side. Never point the open end of a test tube toward yourself or your neighbor.
  11. Any laboratory accident, however small, should be reported immediately to your teacher.
  12. In case of a chemical spill on your skin or clothing, rinse the affected area with plenty of water. If the eyes are affected, water-washing must begin immediately and continue for 10 to 15 minutes or until professional assistance is obtained.
  13. Minor skin burns should be placed under cold, running water.
  14. When discarding used chemicals, carefully follow the instructions provided.
  15. Return equipment, chemicals, aprons and protective glasses to their designated locations.
  16. Before leaving the laboratory, ensure that gas lines and water faucets are shut off.
  17. If in doubt, ask!

(Adapted from Chemistry in the Community, American Chemical Society, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque, Iowa, 1988.)

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The Use of the THINK Tank

Disposal of materials used in high school laboratory activities should not be done casually. In addition to adding to the pollution problem, casual disposal sets a bad example for students. One teacher’s solution is to use a THINK tank. THINK is an acronym for Throw Harmful Ingredients iN Kontainers. Large empty plastic buckets which originally contained laundry detergent or biological specimens make sturdy chemical waste disposal containers. Placed on each laboratory table or in another common location and labeled, “THINK” can also be written into student procedures as a double edged reminder to use their heads and to dispose of waste chemicals at appropriate times during the procedure.

Technical grade washing soda (sodium carbonate) can be purchased inexpensively and in large quantities. It neutralizes acids and precipitates heavy metal ions as hydroxides or carbonates. THINK tanks can be emptied into a collection bucket, neutralized, or precipitated with washing soda, and allowed to settle. Clear liquid can be decanted safely down the drain. By continuous collection, reaction with washing soda, and decanting of the supernate, hazardous heavy metal ions from an entire school year can be precipitated and collected in one container. If the liquid in the container is allowed to evaporate over the summer, the harmful wastes from the previous school year are reduced to a very small volume that can be disposed as solid waste in accordance with local and state requirements.

If metal salts are to be mixed, the teacher must keep track of metals present in the mixture so that they can be identified during transportation and disposal. Label buckets “Waste Disposal” and add a warning to not mix metal salts with organics.

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Organization of Student Instructions

Relates real-world situations to laboratory exercises and sets the tone for questions to be addressed and answered in the activity.

Describes chemistry concepts to be studied.

General Safety Considerations
Presents the hazards in laboratory activity and guidelines for preventing accidents.

Provides step-by-step instructions regarding laboratory activities and data collection.

Data Analysis and Concept Development
Requires students to utilize their data through calculations and analysis to gain an understanding of the major concepts presented.

Implications and Applications
Asks students to make use of the knowledge gained in previous sections to interpret new data and/or to explain observations made in similar situations.

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Organization of the Teachers’ Guide

Preparing for the Laboratory Activity

Major Chemical Concept
A brief statement identifying the subject matter of the activity.

Identifies the types of students for whom this activity is most appropriate. “Basic” refers to students who may have a weak mathematical and/or reading background. “General” refers to first-year chemistry for college preparatory students. “Honors” applies to accelerated first-year students.

Expected Student Background
This section suggests what students should know before beginning the activity. It may help teachers decide where the activity best fits into their particular curriculum.

Estimates the time required for the activity.

Cautions presented in the student version are not repeated. This section offers additional suggestions and reasons for safety precautions.

For one laboratory group.

Advance Preparation
This is what the teacher needs to do before the class begins.

Conducting the Laboratory Activity

Pre-Lab Discussion
This section includes questions, discussion, focusing activities and demonstrations to be covered before the activity begins.

Teacher/Student Interaction
This section is among the most important in the teachers’ notes, although it is often overlooked in traditional teachers’ guides. Much teaching can occur while students are doing the activity.

Anticipated Student Results
Includes sample data tables and examples of data analysis.

Answers to Questions

Provides representative answers; responses may vary.

Post-Lab Discussion
This section offers suggestions for ensuring that students understand the activity and the chemical concepts on which it is based.

Possible Extensions
The section includes optional activities for individuals or small groups of students to extend or apply the concept.

Assessing the Laboratory Learning
The assessment section includes several different types of activities. Some are paper/pencil and some are “hands-on”. Some are carried out during the activity and others are designed to be done after the activity is completed. A teacher would probably not wish to use all of them immediately. Some might be used as examination questions. The examples in this monograph are intended to serve as models in creating additional items.

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ICE Institute for Chemical Education at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California at Berkeley, is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. TPE - 8751778. The government has certain rights in this material.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Science Foundation.

Permission is hereby granted to classroom teachers to reproduce these laboratory activities. For all other purposes, request permission in writing from Institute for Chemical Education/Berkeley.

Copyright © 1990 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

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Project Personnel

Marjorie Gardner, Director
Lawrence Hall of Science
University of California at Berkeley

Laboratory Leadership Group
Royace Aiken
Lubbock High School
Lubbock, TX

Margaret Andersen
D-Y Regional High School
South Yarmouth, MA
1987, '88

Donald Bauder
Wheeling High School
Wheeling, IL
1987, '88, '89

Darrell Beach
The Culver Academies
Culver, IN
1987, '88, '89

Wilbur Bergquist
Los Alamos High School
Los Alamos, NM
1987, '88, '89

Caroline Bowers
Spring Valley High School
Columbia, SC
1987, '88, '89

Mary Christian
North Providence High School
North Providence, RI
1987, '88, '89

Anna Crabtree
Santa Catalina School
Monterey, CA

Ron Crampton
Westside High School
Omaha, NE
1987, '89

Gladysmae Good
Arlington High School
Indianapolis, IN
1987, '88, '89

Mary Gromko
Rampart High School
Colorado Springs, CO

George Hague
St. Marks School of Texas
Dallas, TX

Ken Hartman
Ames High School
Ames, IA
1988, '89

Leonard Himes
Edgewater High School
Orlando, FL

Allene Johnson
Summit High School
Summit, NJ

Mary Johnson
Detroit Country Day School
Birmingham, MI
1987, '88, '89

Mary Kubovy
Benson High School
Omaha, NE
1988, '89

Lee Marek
Naperville North High School
Naperville, IL
1987, '88

Lucy McCorkle
Cardozo High School
Washington, DC

Susan McGrath
Huron High School
Ann Arbor, MI
1988, '89

Patrick McGuire
East Jefferson High School
Metairie, LA

Miriam Nagel
Avon High School
West Hartford, CT
1987 Otto Phanstiel
Episcopal High School
Jacksonville, FL
1987, '88

John Neumann
Beaverton High School
Beaverton, OR

Pat Phillips
Griffin High School
Griffin, GA
1987, '88, '89

Shirley Richardson
Torrey Pines High School
Encinitas, CA

Cliff Schrader
Dover High School
Dover, OH

Stanley Shapiro
James Madison High School
Brooklyn, NY

Helen Stone
Ben L. Smith High School
Greensboro, NC
1987, '88

Floyd Sturtevant
Ames High School
Ames, IA
1987, '88, '89

Marjorie Gardner, Principal Investigator
Patricia Smith, Director
Mary Beth Key, Co-Director, 1987
Henry Heikkinen, Consultant, 1988, Co-Director and Editor, 1989
Dorothy Gabel, Consultant, 1988
Christie Borgford, Academic Year Coordinator

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Harold Wilson
Dept. of Chemistry
John Abbott College
P.O. Box 2000
Ste. Anne de Bellevue
Quebec, CANADA

Ann Kasowski
Stanstead College
Stanstead, Quebec

Valerie A. Wilcox
Museum of Science
Science Park
Boston, MA 02114

Jean Thomas
The Sacred Heart School of Montreal
3635 Atwater Avenue
Montreal, Quebec, CANADA

Neena Paul
H-206 Naraina Vihar
New Delhi - 110028

Jim Gaylor
St. Michael S.S.
8 Grange Street
Stratford, Ontario

Tadayuki Murakami
Himeji-Hiyashi High School
68-70 Hon-machi, Himeji-City

Peheris Fenshaw
Faculty of Education
Movash University
Clayton, Victoria 3168

Sunee Klainin
1PST 924 Sukhumvit
Bangkok, 10110

Susan Robilliard
St. Mary’s School
Calne, Wilts SNII ODF
United Kingdom

Jan Thorstenson
Oppelard VGS
1412 Sofiemyr

Phyllis Kapuscinski
Faculty of Education
University of Regina
Regina, Saskatchewan

June George
Faculty of Education
University of the West Indies
St. Augustine, Trinidad

A. Ndiaye
Faculty of Sciences
Department of Chemistry
University of Dakar

Eugene C. Jekel
Department of Chemistry
Hope College
Holland, MI 49423

Jose Antonio de Barros
Faculdade de Quimica e Biologia
Rua Comandante A Cardosa, 735-CP 3276

Peter Nentrig
IPN, Olshauseunhr. 62
D2300 Kiel

R. R. Commaille
Natal Education Department
Private Bag X1
Berea 4007 Natal

Kitshiu Wyeiu Jones
Poly Prep County Cay School
92uo St Auo 12th Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11228

Dr. Charles L. Schreiber
A. Hamilton High School
2955 S. Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90047

Miranda Mapletoft
University of York
York Y01 5DD

Frank Jenkins
Harry Ainlay Composite High School
4350 -111 Street
Edmonton AB T6J1E8

David A. Katz
Dept. of Chemistry
Community College of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Irwin Talesnick
Faculty of Education
Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6

Jon C. Lober
Concord High School
Chemistry Dept.
2501 E bright Rd.
Wilmington, DE 19810

Raymond S. Martin
LIncoln-Sudbury Regional High School
290 Lincoln Road
Sudbury, MA 01776

K. Yerneni
Head: Chemistry Dept.
St. Pius X High School
Carleton Catholic School Board
1481 Fisher Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario, K2C 1X4

Claire A. Baker
Dept. of Chemistry
Butler University
4600 Sunset Avneue
Indianapolis, IN 46208

Warren F. Beasley
Dept. of Education
University of Queensland
St. Lucia 4067

Jack B. Holbrook
Dept. of Curriculum Studies
University of Hong Kong

St. Francis High School
877 Northmount Drive N.W.
Calgary, Alberta

Dale Wolfgram
Grand Blanc High School
Grand Blanc, MI 48439

Stan Shapiro
Midwood High School
Glenwood Road and Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11210

Manuela Martin
E. H. Pablo Montesino
Santisima Trinidad 37
28010 Madrid

Mr. Declan Kennedy
Irish Science Teachers’ Association
St. Mary’s College
Cobh, County Cork

Goh Ngoh Khang
Institute for Education
Science Education Dept.
469 Bukit Timah Road

Dr. Joseph S. Schmuckler
Temple University
University of Chemistry
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Sri Scllier
Strandvagen 40
18451 Ostersuar

Birgitta LIndh
Travarvagen 38
175 39 Jarfalla
0758 - 364 37

Jack Candido
Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate
787 King Street W.
Kitchener, Ontario N26 1E3

Bette A. Bridges
Silver Lake Regional High School
132 Pembroke Street
Kingston, MA 02364

Geisha Rebolledo Cenamec Apartado
75055 Elmarques
Catlacas (1070A)

Peter Lewis
Christ Church Grammar School
Queensland Drive
Claremont WA 6010

Kalin Fletcher
Central Hawkes Bay College
Box 482

Willem Vander Veer
Chemische Laboratoria
Nyenborgh 16
9747 AS Groningen

Joanne F. Dunlap
Concord High School
Warren Street
Concord, NH 03301

Tan Chee Soon
Anglo-Chinese School
60 Barker Road

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Revised 6/5/02