How do scientists research for lab activities?


Peter D’Amico

Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Manhattan

Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

Summer 2006



Student Learning Outcomes: Student will be able to (SWBAT) identify resources in order to achieve a goal in the lab.  SWBAT research their laboratory goals using software such as Science Finder® in order to map out a “lab plan.”  SWBAT put a checklist together in order to maximize goals and track their progress.


NYS Learning Standards:

            A: Science as Inquiry- Students should develop the abilities necessary to do and understand scientific inquiry.


B: Students should develop an understanding of investigating the structure and properties of atoms and molecules as well as chemical reactions. 


G1, G2: Science as a human endeavor, Nature of scientific knowledge (respectively).


Materials: Science Finder®, markers, poster paper


Prior Knowledge: Students will have already been introduced to “backwards synthesis.”  This type of planning calls for a reverse action where a student picks a compound to synthesize then plans each step, backwards, in order to come up with starting materials and reagents.  Students will be asked to choose compounds that require no less than 3 reaction steps to achieve the final product.


Procedure/Instructional Plan:

            Preparation Phase/Motivation:  Students have begun to make a flow chart (on a poster board) of steps they will need to follow in order to make his or her compound.  Having already identified this compound that they would like to synthesize, students will get into groups of similar synthetic goals and research on science finder articles that pertain to their compound.

Description of the Instructional Procedure:  After meeting in their groups to discuss synthetic pathways, students will be asked:

a)      What similarities exist between the compounds chosen in your group

b)      How do those similarities affect the way in which the compound is produced?

c)      What methods did you learn from others in order to synthesize your compound?

d)      Are there any similarities in the synthetic pathways of other types of compounds?

e)      How does the complexity of the research paper affect your synthesis?

f)        How will you prepare from the information in the research paper the proper synthetic pathway?

Closure: Students will add to the flow chart what they have accomplished and what the next steps could be in their synthetic process.  Students will also take home copies of the research paper they have found in order to read and decipher the research.


Assessment: For homework, students will devise a precise methodology over the course of a few evenings.  Having a solid handle on the research papers and the procedures will give the students a greater sense of how scientific research work.