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Chemistry Laboratory

The effectiveness of inquiry laboratory experiments, in which students have significant autonomy in the design and performance of the experiment, stimulate students’ achievement and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Studies have shown that inquiry laboratory experiment (ILE) promote students’ learning, expand students’ critical thinking, promote teamwork, develop students’ leadership skills, and present apparent advantages over traditional “cookbook” experiments where students simply follow a lab manual.

Captivated by the above-mentioned advantages of ILEs in promoting students’ learning, I started the incorporation and implementation of ILEs in my chemistry laboratory at Houssam Hariri High School (HHHS). I developed several experiments in grade 11 including the classification of metals based on their reducing power, studying the evolution of some slow reactions, preparing and diluting solutions, Redox titrating of commonly used chemicals. In Grade 12, although the time is limited due to the preparation for the official exams, I insisted on setting a specific period every week to go to the lab and let students design their own procedures to study the kinetic of slow reactions, test the different kinetic factors that affect the evolution of chemical reaction, titrate commonly used acidic and basic household products.

In addition to designing their own procedures, students model the work of quality controllers in the industrial community to test the values mentioned on the Label of different products found in the market. So, students by connecting chemistry to the real life situations they recognize the personal relevance of their study; which increases their interest in the subject matter and encourage them to ask and search for chemistry related specialty connected to their future studies.

The Lab at HHHS is well equipped with the Vernier Instruments and Sensors that facilitate our implementation of the designed procedures. All hectic steps that increase the difficulty of implementing the procedures are overcome when using the Vernier sensors. Using the pressure probe helps us in testing many variables when studying the rate of different reactions that produces gases. The pH probe connected to the computer makes the calculation in the titration experiment an easy task and gives the opportunity for the students to focus on the chemical concept understudy. The graphs are automatically drawn and provide instant results for students to discuss and use the right terminology to build a common language that helps them in better understanding the chemical concepts.
Finally, chemistry is no longer an abstract discipline. The barriers faced by chemistry teachers in transforming chemistry into an applicable specialty can be overcome with a change in the perspectives of teachers and by providing Laboratories with the suitable equipment that are considered to be cost effective on the long run.

Mazen Kotob - Chemistry Teacher