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Chromatography of Colorants Used in Medicines
A. Willm
online simulation
Cooperative learning, problem solving
Fundamental Chemistry, Materials Science, Health Science
Lower Secondary School
Teaching resources considered
• Prerequisites: none
• Contents: colour mixing, chromatography, dyes
• Aims: to determine the dying composition of mixes responsible for the colour of capsules
• Task description:
The colours of capsules and tablets are not picked by chance but according to several parameters, such as psychosomatic effects (red for stimulants, blue for relaxants, support to take medicines [one colour per day…]), or simply marketing criteria (medicines with vivid colours for children…). With the help of the simulation software, the student has to carry out an efficient scientific approach in order to determine the dying composition of each type of capsule.
• How to use it in class (to be tested)
Methods: the students work in pair at a computer with an internet connection, a screen capture software and a word processor. They are assigned the above-mentioned task with an allotted time of 1h30.
Sequence of actions:
- To acquaint oneself with the animation (15 minutes should be more than enough);
- To rephrase the task in one’s own words;
- To formulate an hypothesis on the approach to carry out for an efficient to research of the colour composition of the capsules;
- To make chromatography trials for each capsule to determine its colorant composition;
- To complete the “bilan” (outcome) table and check the results;
- To do a screen capture of the table or copy it out and pass it on to the teacher;
- With the whole class: to define the separation process called “chromatography” and its use;
- To make a chromatography of Smarties or markers, or even of chlorophyll;
- Timing to be tested.
Les ressources d’enseignement prises en considération
• Prérequis : aucun
• Contenus : mélanges de couleurs, chromatographie, colorants
• Objectifs : déterminer la composition en colorants de mélanges responsables de la couleur des gélules
• Description de la tâche :
Les couleurs des gélules et des comprimés ne sont pas choisies au hasard mais en fonction de plusieurs paramètres comme l’effet psychosomatique (rouge pour les stimulants, bleu pour les relaxants, l’aide à la prise de médicaments [une couleur par jour…]), ou plus simplement des critères marketing (médicaments très colorés pour les enfants…). En s’aidant du logiciel de simulation, l’élève est chargé de mettre en œuvre une démarche scientifique efficace afin de déterminer la composition en colorants de chaque type de gélule.
• Comment l’utiliser en classe (à tester)
Modalités d’utilisation : les élèves travaillent en binôme sur un ordinateur avec connexion internet, un logiciel de capture d’écran et d’un traitement de texte. Ils reçoivent la tâche citée ci-dessus et disposent de 1h30.
Déroulement :
- se familiariser avec l’animation (15 minutes suffisent largement) ;
- reformuler la tâche avec ses propres mots ;
- formuler une hypothèse sur la démarche à mettre en œuvre pour être efficace dans la recherche de la composition de couleur des gélules;
- réaliser des essais pour de chromatographie pour chaque gellule afin de déterminer sa composition en colorants ;
- remplir le tableau « bilan » et vérifier les résultats
- faire une capture d’écran du tableau ou le recopier pour le transmettre à l’enseignant.
- En groupe classe : définir la technique de séparation appelée chromatographie et son utilité.
- Réaliser une chromatographie de Smarties ou de marqueurs, voire de la chlorophylle.
- Timing à tester
Please provide information about:
• Points of strength: easy to use, with no need to download software, no compatibility problems, easy and efficient simulation. Presence of a contextualisation.
• Points of weakness: there is no button to discover the chemical nature of the colorants
• Scientific reliability: ok but no explanation of the migration process on the chromatography plate
• Pedagogic value: good. There is a stimulating contextualisation, possible transfers toward other related situations (Smarties, drinks…) and a link with everyday life. An experimental continuation is possible: chromatography of Smarties or markers.

Veuillez fournir des informations sur :
• les points forts : facilité d’utilisation sans téléchargement de logiciel, sans problème de compatibilité, simulation simple et efficace. Présence d’une contextualisation.
• les points faibles : il manque des boutons pour découvrir la nature chimique des colorants
• la rigueur scientifique : ok mais pas d’explication du processus de migration sur la plaque de chromato
• la valeur pédagogique : bonne. Il y a une contextualisation motivante, des transferts possibles vers d’autres situations proches (Smarties, boissons…) et un lien avec le quotidien. Un prolongement expérimental est possible : chromatographie des smarties ou de marqueurs.
Haute École Léonard De Vinci, ENCBW –LLN

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2013.12.02

Posted by Noélia Vilas Boas (Portugal)

Message: After analysis of the digital resource, I would like to present the following comments:

• Strengths: it is an easy to use resource, with no need to download software, no compatibility issues, that is, an easy and efficient simulation.

• Weaknesses: It doesn’t describe how to use the activity, it does not contextualize the practical activity in order to explain the migration of colors on the plate; it is not intuitive (the way you can know the speed of scanning colors and compare with pills); there is no information button to find out about the chemical nature of colorants. It doesn’t seem quite right to use tablets for medical use in an experimental activity. Alternatively, smarties, M&M, etc, could be used. It is only available in French.

- This resource is useful for the 7th grade, where separation processes are taught. However, students should be warned that they should not use drugs at home to recreate the experiment.

- It has pedagogical interest to students because they may repeat it as many times as they need. The student learns faster.

- The approach is innovative; however, the experimental version is very simple and without needing extensive resources, that teachers can do with students in the classroom environment.

- It has a good educational value but it can be improved. One can recreate other everyday situations from this activity.

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.