What are your intended lab outcomes?
What performance criteria are being evaluated?
These questions are becoming ever more important for accreditation, for budgets, for new courses, even for justifying the very existence of a lab in your course. MicroLab helps you to answer those questions with experiments that address the most important outcomes in the laboratory curriculum from introductory chemistry through advanced courses.
Dr. Steven Brown of the University of Arizona surveyed general chemistry laboratory programs and recognized a dozen areas of content upon which lab outcomes and performance criteria are based:
- Acid-Base Titrations
- Absorption Spectroscopy/Beer’s Law
- Gas Laws
- Redox Titrations
- Emission Spectroscopy
- Complexometric Titrations
- Density Determination
- Chromatography (paper or column)
- Qualitative Analysis
- Molecular Modeling
The first eight of these can all be accomplished with the MicroLab system of hardware and software. With MicroLab your students can do them accurately and precisely, and do them economically, safely, and with minimum bench clutter. The experiments available for download address these eight areas of content.
Experiments range from proof of concept that help students understand important chemical principles to student or instructor designed experiments that show science as a process of inquiry. The experiments that are available from us are by necessity both specific and generic. They are specific in the instructions for use of the MicroLab equipment and software, but they are generic in the sense that each school’s lab situation is different. We encourage instructors to use these experiment files as a sort of template to go along with their teaching expertise and imaginations, and to modify them to achieve their stated lab outcomes and performance criteria.
The MicroLab FS-522 unit and sensors serve as an all-in-one interface, replacing colorimeters, pH meters, thermometers, voltmeters, ammeters, timers, switches, mercury manometers – even burets. Many experiments can be done with significant reductions in scale compared to the traditional experiments, saving time and money. Students quickly get the hang of the software so the emphasis is on the chemistry, not the equipment. Simpler, safer, better.
The experiments that MicroLab’s FS522 enables are limited only by the lab instructor’s imagination. With the MicroLab interface, sensors, software and a Windows PC, you can carry out almost any experiment in the introductory curriculum. The 16-bit precision of the hardware means you can get excellent accuracy and precision with simpler setups.
One more thing:
Three of the final four areas of content can take advantage of MicroLab’s capabilities. For instance, instead of the traditional flame tests in qualitative analysis, why not do the flame tests with the MicroLab visual spectrometer – demonstrating not just color but the actual emission spectrum as a means of identifying an element?
The MicroLab drop counter and software can be used with column chromatography to facilitate fraction collection. This is not necessarily something for the introductory course, but if you want to do something like this we can help you.
The graphing routine with hand entered data can be used with manual data acquisition for density determinations, especially in investigations relating density to concentration, molar mass, or temperature.
Finally, as long as you have the PC in the lab – and are using it for data acquisition and analysis, lab report writing, PowerPoint presentation development, online “handouts” and prelabs, and other content – you may as well use it for molecular modeling too. MicroLab is not in the modeling business, but any PC that can do even rudimentary modeling is more than sufficient for the MicroLab software.