“Great knowledge and incorporation of labs that I can take back to my classroom.”
“A fantastic workshop with very clear resources. I am overly impressed with the ability to modify each lab up and down.”
“It was fun to be a student again.”
These are just a few comments from attendees who have participated in the hands-on chemistry lab experiences offered through the Department of Chemistry and Physics at Belmont’s annual It’s Easy Being Green: Budget-Friendly Safety-Conscious Chemistry Labs for the Science Classroom of Today summer workshop series for middle and high school physical science and chemistry teachers.
Event organizer and assistant professor of chemistry education Dr. Danielle Garrett held three day-long workshops in the advanced chemistry lab throughout June. “I really enjoy being able to develop and host these workshops for teachers,” Garrett said. “These days are full of networking, camaraderie, sharing of ideas and of course – chemistry! This year has been especially exciting for me as I saw an increased attendance of almost 24 percent, with 52 attendees from 12 counties, participating in hands-on science at Belmont.”
The workshop this year, Please Pass the Salt: Chemistry – It’s “Saltsational,” engaged participants in lab work focusing on mixtures, limiting reactants and colligative properties. All attendees received a complete instructor-student lab manual and built a budget-friendly separatory funnel to take back for classroom use. While data analysis always plays a large role in the activities, Garrett placed extra emphasis on in-depth discussions of error analysis this year.
“I really wanted to develop a lab that pushed students to think about why their results varied from theoretical calculations, forcing them to engage in collaborative discussion about error – not just typical errors resulting from measurement, which must always be considered, but errors based on scientific assumptions that may not be valid under all sets of lab conditions,” Garrett said. “Students are so used to being presented with ideal or ‘perfect’ data to analyze and work problems with, that I think they sometimes lose the essence of what real science is. They can get so focused on the process of doing calculations to get an answer that they often forget to stop and think about the physical meaning and conceptual relevance behind the experiment itself.”