Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Power of Inquiry Labs

In chemistry this week, my students completed an inquiry lab involving the law of conservation of mass.  While many teachers and students have done this lab, my students had not previously performed this experiment.

The students were told they could use a Ziploc bag, an antacid tablet, a graduated cylinder, water, and a balance to determine the total mass before and after the reaction that occurs when antacid tablets are placed in water.  The students had to develop their own procedure before receiving materials.  The students then completed the experiment with their materials.  Watching the students work together to make decisions about the amount of water to use and how to set up their equations to determine initial and final masses was informative for them and for me.  Next the students calculated the percent difference before and after the reaction.  They were excited when they realized a small percent difference meant they had evidence supporting the law of conservation of mass.

In the future I plan to incorporate more inquiry labs in biology and chemistry classes.

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