Thursday, 10 March 2016

Students Use pH Probes To Watch Chemistry Take Shape in Real Time

With LabQuest, students can see
their data displayed graphically, in
real time, as they collect it.
Use of Vernier technology has become widespread in the Science department this year. Almost every student in the school has now had an opportunity to experience the LabQuest 2, along with various probes and sensors, in their science classes.

Recently, the Grade 12 Chemistry class used the LabQuest with pH probes while conducting a titration to determine the Ksp (solubility product constant) of calcium hydroxide. Having performed several titrations in Grade 11, this procedure was fairly routine. Using this new technology, however, the experiment was really brought to life.

The Impact of Instant Feedback

With the LabQuest, students could now see their data displayed graphically, in real time, as they were collecting it. There was an immediate shift from students being passive observers to becoming more actively engaged in the experiment.

The visual feedback given by the Vernier equipment helped students develop a deeper understanding of the process of titration and made the experimental results more meaningful.

What did students think?

Many of the students reflected on the use of the LabQuest in their lab report assignment. Here are a few of their comments:

  • “Using LabQuest technology makes our experiments much more accurate and allows us to measure parameters that would be practically impossible to measure otherwise.”
  • “This technology is a great way to get accurate measurements and visually show us the titration curve forming.”
  • “The LabQuest can zoom so we could see the exact moment when (we) reached the equivalence point. After the equivalence point we could see the the shape of the curve has changed and that there was a huge drop in pH as it became more acidic. We were even able to take the derivative of the curve…”

Having become comfortable with the method and the technology, this past week Grade 12 Chemistry students used the pH probes to explore buffers. They each designed an experiment to compare the buffering capacity of various beverages (juices or soft drinks) and collected data and compared results using the LabQuest. This activity was a great example of how we can leverage this technology and allow students to personalize their lab experience.

Julie Way
Science Teacher

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