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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 22 (2017) pp 205-207

An Unconventional Approach to Procedural Development in Analytical Chemistry using Food Coloring and Absorption Spectroscopy

Albert D. Dukes III*, and David E. Gardner

Department of Physical Sciences, Lander University, Greenwood, SC 29649,
Received October 18, 2017. Accepted December 5, 2017.

Published: 29 Devember 2017

Abstract. We present a laboratory activity designed to teach students procedural development, using commonly encountered substances (i.e. cake) as the unknown sample. Students were challenged to determine the concentration of dye in the cake and were given minimal guidance on how to complete the task. Because of the perceived benign nature of cake, students reported feeling more at ease in lab. Observations of student behavior indicated that students more deeply engaged with this activity compared to more traditional analytical experiments. Providing a safe, but less structured, environment allowed the students to use make use of both their inherent creativity and deploy the full arsenal of their knowledge in order to successfully complete the lab activity.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; analytical chemistry; food science; laboratory instruction; hands-on learning; problem solving; calibration; and UV-Vis spectroscopy

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (817 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

The lab handout provided to students and the instructor version are available in supporting material. (158 KB)

The Chemical Educator 1996-2017