Use of a computer controlled spectrophotometer in home chemistry experiments
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Home lab experiments in general chemistry often involve simple chemical manipulations, general chemical observations, and measurements of volume and mass. A mass balance is often the most complex piece of lab equipment that is required. On the other hand, campus teaching laboratories are often equipped with a broader range of simple instrumentation that can be used by general chemistry students, including simple spectrophotometers. We have attempted to bridge the divide between home and on-campus lab experiments by implementing a home lab colorimetry experiment that makes use of a simple, portable, computer controlled spectrophotometer (Vernier SpectroVis Plus). The use of this type of instrument allows students to learn about instrument control, data acquisition, and data processing – functions that are common to a large number of experimental techniques in chemistry and other sciences. This presentation will describe the instrument, the experiment, and our experience with durability, reliability, data quality, and student feedback.