In this CLAW (Chemistry Laboratory Alternative Work) At-Home experiment, students will perform an experiment using household chemicals and materials. It was designed as a substitute for in-person laboratories, usually performed at the college level, during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it may also be used as an experiment that students can carry out in the lab or for student projects.
The objective of this at-home experiment is to observe the relationship between the absorbance and concentration of blue Gatorade powder using spectrophotometry. This relationship can then be used to estimate the sugar content in a liquid Gatorade drink.
Dawson College, Montreal, QC
- This hands-on home experiment is an engaging way to manipulate and measure chemical compounds outside an official laboratory set-up;
- Experimental data recorded by the students can be analyzed to perform calculations and write a complete lab report.
- It may be difficult to estimate the time needed for students to complete this activity at home.
- Gathering of chemicals and material usually carried out by a technician must be done by each student.
- The list of chemicals and material necessary for the experiment should be given to students as soon as possible to make sure they have the time to purchase and gather the needed items;
- Equipment could be loaned out to the students from the college;
- Volume measurements can be done with measuring spoons/cups, although they may be less accurate than syringes;
- Red and orange Gatorade does not work very well. A blue colored construction paper would have to be used and the solutions have to be very dilute. But the smartphone camera may not be sensitive enough to detect the blue color regardless of the shade of blue;
- When carrying out the reaction, make sure there are no shadows cast on the reaction glass, the reaction glass is not sitting in direct sunlight, and that the room is not dark;
- When centering the reaction glass in the cell phone camera, adjust the color identifier so that it reads an area of red that is bright (higher R value);
- Do not move the cellphone once it’s in place, test out your hand movements before starting the experiment (tap the screen to go back and forth between the live view and the RGB readings);
- Ensure all the equipment is dry before starting a new run;
- Ensure the reaction glass stays dry on the outside to prevent getting the red construction paper wet, otherwise, it may darken the spot where the absorbance is being measured;
- If a student does not have access to a smartphone, then the student can be paired up with another student who has a smartphone and they can work together virtually (one student carries out the experiment, while the other watches and records the data).
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