Tuesday July 31, AM Workshops

W50: Small Mobile Instruments for Laboratory Enhancement: Colorimeter

William H. Hughes, Park Forest Middle School
Dan Sykes, Pennsylvania State University

The workshop focuses on the development of rugged, low-cost, low-maintenance, and low-power colorimeter that can be easily constructed by students.  The colorimeter quantitatively measures the absorption of visible radiation by a sample in terms of the red (640 nm), green (524 nm), and blue (470 nm) components of light, thus can be utilized for the qualitative and quantitative characterization of chemical substances and chemical processes. The aim is to create a low-cost, custom-built instrument that facilitates the discussion and implementation of visible spectroscopy concepts within standard middle school, high school, and undergraduate general and analytical chemistry laboratory courses.  Further, the colorimeter costs less than $50 to build whereas commercial instructional-grade instruments cost from $500 to $1500 (e.g., Spec 20).  For this day-long workshop, participants will build their own colorimeter during the morning session then conduct a number of experiments using their colorimeter in the afternoon session.  At the conclusion of the workshop, the following items and resources will be available to the participants:  The colorimeter which they built, and a Teacher/Instructor Preparatory Guide which includes the laboratory write-ups, instructor notes/key, a Powerpoint presentation on the theory of colorimetry and instrument design and limitations. For pre-college teachers, a detailed listing and discussion of the Pennsylvania State standards for STEM that each of the laboratory activities satisfy at the middle and high school levels. We will ask pre-college participants from out-of-state to assist in developing similar documents based on their state code. The laboratory manuals, notes and presentation material each participant receives will be tailored to their appropriate instructional level.  For pre-college instructor participants, we will provide the stock solutions and supplies necessary to perform each experiment with twenty students.  During the Fall 2011 semester, the workshop instructor from State College Area School District Park Forest Middle School STEM team guided eighth-grade students through the construction and use of the colorimeter as one project in their technology class. With one of the main objectives being to generate student interest and enthusiasm for STEM related fields, student-centered activities at the middle school level are a proven way to spark scientific curiosity. The student-built instruments were then taken to science class where they constructed calibration curves for several common food dyes then extracted the food dyes from various products and used the colorimeters to obtain quantitative data.  The students learned to work-up the data in their math class. The exercise provided an exemplary example of an interactive STEM model; 6-hour session.  ‘

Intended Audience: MS/HS/UG

No fee; limit of 20 participants

Tuesday, July 31, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., 330 WML


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