Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

LUIS A. AMAYA

NEWCOMERS HIGH SCHOOL

1997

How can we improve basic laboratory techniques?

INTRODUCTION:

Working in Dr. Ira Goldberg’s laboratory this summer has allowed me to better understand the ways in which I should prepare my students for a future in science.

In recent years co-operative learning has been a keyword when speaking of methodology in education. This upcoming year I will emphasize co-operative learning in my classroom. However, I will use a slight moderation. Rather than divide one task into smaller tasks, I will assign each student his or her own task that once completed can become part of a larger picture. For example, in studying human anatomy, rather than lecture about the roles of each system and organs within them I can assign different groups separate systems. In turn each group member can be assigned a component of that system. In the end each student can present his assignment by using drawings or models and will have contributed to the overall study of human anatomy. [Teaching Standard B- Students share responsibility for learning] Apart from demonstrating benefits of teamwork, this approach will help sharpen the student’s communication skills once it becomes an integral part of the course work. During this assignment I would also like to introduce the internet as a tool for obtaining information and also outstanding graphics.

Problem-solving is normally thought of as something that is done only in the mathematics classroom. However, upon observing my partners in the laboratory this summer I realized that researchers must also possess such skills. Many problems arose that needed solutions, at times they were mechanical and at times there were conflicting results. Regardless, the lab worked as a group each suggesting different remedies. I would like to incorporate this concept into my laboratory. My idea for this theme is to have the students design their own laboratory experiment for a given topic, for example cell division. [9-12 Content Standard A- Design and conduct scientific investigations] Why does a cell need to divide? What are the conditions necessary for a cell to divide? What must occur within the cell in order for it to divide? How will the cell look once it is dividing? [9-12 Content Standard C- The cell] I expect my students to present themselves with these questions and then go about setting up a laboratory activity that will either confirm or reject their ideas.

Laboratory Activity

Aim: How can we improve basic laboratory techniques?

Objective: The objective of this activity is to acquaint students with various techniques that will be essential to all laboratory activities. For example, laboratory safety, handling materials, accurate measurements using pipettes, mixing substances, and proper attire for the laboratory.

Materials:

Latex Gloves

Lab Coats

Measuring pipettes

Hydrochloric Acid

Sulfuric Acid Water

Sodium Hydroxide

Blue and Red Litmus Paper

[Teaching Standard D- Make accessible science tools]

Procedure: In groups of two the students will measure(using a 10mL pipette) and record an unspecified amount of two substances and then use the litmus paper to determine whether the solution is an acid or a base. The result of each group will then be displayed on the blackboard and we will discuss the steps that lead to the production of an acid and a base.

Discussion:

The following topics may be arise during the course of this activity and should be addressed;

1. Proper attire in the laboratory.

Why is it important to protect the skin and the eyes?

2. Accurate measurements in the laboratory.

Why are specific doses taken by people when sick?

3. Acids and bases.

Discussion of gastric juice, the use of antacids, pH balanced deodorant.