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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 10 Issue 3 (2005) pp 179-180

Introducing GC/MS into the First-Year General Chemistry Curriculum Using Pattern Recognition and a Verbal Analogy

Brian Nowak-Thompson

Northland College, Ashland, WI 54806,
Received February 14, 2005. April 8, 2005.

Published online: 24 May 2005

Abstract. AA strategy to introduce GC/MS into the first-year general chemistry curriculum that is based on the idea of pattern recognition is described. Using word fragments, students compile a mass spectrum for their unknown word and then identify others in the class with the same word by comparing spectra. These tasks provide an analogy for the use of mass spectra and database searching as a means to identify organic compounds.

Key Words: In the Classroom; general chemistry; spectroscopic methods; mass spectrometry; teaching/learning aids

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (158 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:


Supporting Materials:

The complete data sets, the prime numbering code used for mass assignments [5, 6], the resulting mass spectra for the five words, and a blank spectrum used as a student handout are available in a Zip file. Data sets can be used for assembling the cards required for the described activity. Zip file (170 KB).

Issue date: June 1, 2005

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