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General Chemistry Laboratory
September 2011
Online course
Cooperative learning, Experiential learning
Fundamental Chemistry
Lower Secondary School
The laboratory is designed to support and illustrate chemical concepts studied in the lecture portion of the course, as well as to introduce important laboratory techniques and encourage analytical thinking.
The content is organized in 8 Week lessons. Each of them offers: overview, introduction and goals, chemistry background, lab techniques, FAQ. The lab manual contains background information and procedures for the experiments as part of Chemistry for upper secondary school and academic courses. The following pages contain helpful information about laboratory policies, lab notebook, safety regulations, and use of laboratory equipment.
The educational content is organized in two levels.
The first week of the 1st level allows students to observe the reactions of some simple salts, analyze common household chemicals, and identify an unknown sample by testing its reactivity. The week 2 gives students abilities to use qualitative analysis to identify the cations in known and unknown samples. By observing the reactions of known cation samples, the students construct a logical flow chart for identifying the components of a mixture of unknown cations. The week 3 and 4 concentrate on understanding the chemistry of ion exchange and estimate the capacity of an ion exchange column. Weeks 5 and 6 are dedicated to Acids, Bases, and Buffersand allow exploration the behavior of the monoprotic and the polyprotic acid. By titrating, students examine the acid and conjugate base species present across the pH scale and the composition of buffers at different pH's. Final weeks 7 and 8 deal with Calorimetry – determination of the heats of an exothermic and an endothermic reaction
The 2nd level content is divided in 8 weeks also and concentrate on the following problems: Chemical Kinetics, Coordination Chemistry: Synthesis, Spectrum of the Hydrogen Atom, Coordination Chemistry, The Color of Dyes and Molecular Model Building.

There is a special section dedicated to the lab equipment:
• glassware – burets, flasks, beakers, graduated cylinders, pipets, repipets, volumetric flasks;
• instruments - analytical balance, analog and digital pH meters, analog, digital and scanning spectrometers, top-loading balances;
• techniques for calorimetry, centrigugation, quantitative transfer, titration and vacuum filtration.
There is a lot of interesting chemistry to explore in the labs that enjoy learning and enhance students’ understanding of the material presented in lecture.
Laboratory activities organization is described and available under Lab Logistics section. Practically it is a guideline that facilitates students giving information about eye protection, lab meeting places, lab teaching assistant, lab lecture and prelab problems, laboratory charges and laboratory manual.
• Points of strength
ChemLab is a well organized on-line resource allowing students to learn about general chemistry and to build basic competences in chemical lab work.
The educational content is easy to understand and includes all categories of teaching materials including problem solving;
The processes and activities are very well illustrated and animated that allows the visualization of the theoretical problems;
Every lesson contains clearly defined Introduction and Goals, Chemistry Background, Key Questions, Prelab Problems, Safety, Procedure and In Your Write-up
The lab work illustrates the theoretical lessons and is supported by clearly defined guidelines.
There is possibility about cooperative learning and team work .
Knowledge assessment and self assessment is available.
Very well developed Safety section which is very important for chemical lab work.

• Scientific reliability

The educational content strongly relies on the Chemical science, but is organized and presented in quite understandable way according to the level of knowledge of the students.

• Pedagogical value
The material allows students when they come to lab each week, to come prepared, think about what is happening on a molecular level, ask questions, and see what they can learn.
A huge advantage of the resource is the part named Honor Principle – it helps teacher in his pedagogical work to build in students principles of honesty, collaboration and understanding.
Technical University Gabrovo

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2013.06.15

Posted by Noélia Vilas-Boas (Portugal)

Message: This is an informative resource with a format of online course, about appropriate safety and logistics to work in a laboratory.
It seems to be a useful resource for students starting to study chemistry up to higher levels, and also for non-teaching staff working in laboratories that are concerned about safety in the laboratory.
This course has the advantage of being able to be performed at home, out of working hours and according to the students’ availability.
It may increase the interest of students, serving as motivation during the theoretical preparation of the experimental work, but especially to inform them about basic issues on laboratory safety.
I have also considered important the fact of supporting the use of laboratory notebooks, so important and fundamental to the research process, and to the use of flowcharts when performing the experimental work.
In the technical part is undoubtedly a resource of excellence. It is documented with photographs of glass material and of its correct handling, including even some instrumental apparatus. It presents explanatory videos on calibration of electrodes, sensors, balances, calorimetry, titration, etc., as well as photographic step by step guides.
It does not propose an innovative approach and it is not very attractive from the graphic design point of view (weak points), but scientifically it is a resource that can be applied in Chemistry teaching. This resource could be improved with the introduction of images of the symbols of safety hazard and also a list of R and S.

Date: 2013.01.21

Posted by Enrique Santana (Spain)

Message: It is an online course about General Chemistry aspects in the laboratory.

In my opinion, it is a very useful resource for pre-college students as training for the work they will later do in a better-equipped laboratory after graduation.

It deals with basic aspects such as security, use of laboratory notebooks, peer-to-peer cooperation or honesty when presenting the results of experiences. This resource also offers an exercise script of basic practices to start working,

It incorporates a range of specific applications that can be used to work virtually in the experiences they will later carry out in the laboratory so that students can get well prepared for scientific work.

I believe that it can be motivating for students as they do not usually visit the laboratory. Moreover, due to time reasons, basic issues which are usually overlooked in the classroom are very well developed on this site.

It is seems to me that it can be really helpful for students because some topics which escape from students´ everyday life, such as a reaction kinetics, spectrums or least squares, are dealt in detail. Having the possibility of working with these simulators will improve students understanding and pupils will be able to relate what they do in the classroom with practice work

The use of this resource implies an innovation for the subject that makes up for the lack of practical work we often find due to economic or time reasons.

Although this resource is in English, its use is easy and intuitive. Language is very clear and I do not think this fact will suppose a problem for most students.

Date: 2012.09.28

Posted by Michelle Starr (Ireland)

Message: This is an online chemistry course which states its aim is to a Medium level of Chemistry Knowledge. The site uses cooperative learning and experiential learning approaches. The subject areas stated is Fundamental Chemistry and the target group level is Lower Secondary School.
The site is in English and gives tutorial support.

Chemlab is designed to support the teaching and learning of chemistry with the aid of illustrations and laboratory techniques.
The site is organised into two courses, Level 1 and Level 2 and each are organised in 8 week lessons. Each lesson is very well presented with an Overview giving relevant and quick glance information on getting started. The full lab manual section contains detailed information under the following headings; Introduction & Goals, Chemistry & Background, Key Questions, Prelab Problems, Safety, Procedure, In Your Write-up which gives a link to ‘sample lab write-up’ a great resource to aid students who would not be familiar on writing up their lab experiments.

LEVEL 1 8 lessons are
• Analysis of Anions –experiment to observe the rxn of some simple salts,analyse common household chemicals and identify an unknown sample by testing its reactivity
• Analysis of Cations – experiment using qualitative analysis to identify the cations in known and unknown samples.
• Ion Exchange
• Analysis of Seawater using an ion exchange column
• Acids, Bases and Buffers –Titrations to examine the acid and conjugate base present across pH scale and the compostition of buffers at different Ph’s
• Acid, Bases and Buffers –identifying unknown solutions (LC level) (determine their indentity from their pKa, pKb or pH values)
• Calorimetry 1
• Calorimetry 2 (determination of the heats of an exothermal and endothermal rxn)

Level 2 is divided into the following lessons
• Chemical Kinetics
• Coordination Chemistry:
• Synthesis, Spectrum of the Hydrogen Atom
• Coordination Chemistry:
• The colour of dyes and molecular building

This site is well organised with illustrative information on topics and experiments in chemistry and is a good aid for teachers to point students to in preparation for lab experiments and in particular for aiding the write up of their laboratory experiments. Every lesson is clearly defined with an introduction and goals along with the safety aspects related to the experiment. The Chemistry and Background section in each lesson is very informative and is a good source of information for both teachers and students.
For use in the Irish Science and Chemistry syllabi the lessons are aimed more for Leaving Certificate chemistry however there are lessons which are applicable to the Junior Certificate syllabus. The laboratory techniques section is applicable to all students and teachers e.g titration techniques, using pH meter.
Level 2 is of a higher level and sections would be applicable for the Leaving Certificate Higher Chemistry.
This site would be a great resource if the content was mapped to the Junior Certificate syllabus and the Leaving Certificate syllabus for ease of use.
As it stands teachers would need to familiarise themselves with the site content to know when and if there is content which would aid their classroom teaching and learning. However this is time consuming.
The site is a good resource for laboratory techniques and would help students to be familiar with general laboratory equipment in preparation for their lab classes. Experiments which are applicable for the syllabus will allow students come to their lab prepared in the knowledge of the objective of the experiment they will be carrying out and hence increase their interest and help in their understanding of the analysis.

This site is a good pedagogical aid for teachers and would be better served if the content was mapped to the Irish Science and Chemistry Syllabi. This would help increase the use of the content as a resource in the classroom teaching and learning of Chemistry.

Date: 2012.09.25

Posted by Kordatos Konstantinos (Greece)

Message: General Chemistry laboratory (Chem Lab) is an easy to use on-line teaching resource for upper secondary school and academic courses. Chem Lab provides to the students all the essential information for attending chemical lab experiments by introducing basic experimental techniques. The first part of the content, Info, presents a general introduction, however, apart the safety requirements, which are very important, and the general instructions for the writing up of the laboratory notebook, the most of the Info refers to students attending the course of chemistry at Dartmouth College. The second part of the content, Techniques, presents several laboratory equipments including glassware and instruments along with basic techniques for calorimetry, centrifugation, quantitative transfer, titration and vacuum filtration. All the equipments and techniques are accompanied with characteristic photos with detailed explanation, thus, helping the students to understand better and to be familiar with the experiment that will take place in the lab. The third and fourth parts of the content, Chem5 and Chem6, are introducing two different series of experiments for lower and higher level of knowledge in chemistry, respectively. All experiments are well structured providing all necessary information including goals, key questions, corresponding theory, detailed experimental procedures, problems, safety, and well documented illustrative material describing step by step all the experimental process.

Overall, Chem Lab can be considered as a useful tool towards the better and faster comprehension of general chemistry, because it can give the students the opportunity to attend the lab being well prepared. One can also take into consideration that Chem Lab offers to the students the possibility of learning on their own needed time leading to a better assimilation of the upcoming experiment.

In addition, this resource may enable instructors to adopt some of the experiments and to enrich their lessons following similar teaching approaches.

National Reports on successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry The national reports on chemistry successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry are now available on the related section of the project portal. The reports presents examples of successful experiences in the partner countries and the results of testing of ICT resources with science teachers.