P802: Using “Challenge Labs” to build technical ability and problem solving skills in Advanced Placement Chemistry
Challenge labs are inquiry based activities that present students with a lab problem and one class period to conduct an experiment to answer the lab question. The decision to move from traditional labs to this format was based on the observation that students did not seem to understand the connection between the technical aspects of AP Chemistry and the lab setting. Based on this change, students have demonstrated growth as members of a team and as lab technicians. Teamwork is a key component to success in this type lab setting. Students have a limited amount of time and they are not allowed to use their notes. For this reason, both students must take part in lab planning and execution. Using this method, students also develop advanced lab skills. This growth is attributed to the fact that student teams have to first identify the data needed to solve the problem and then devise a method to obtain the data which is practical in the time given. This growth is evidenced in understanding of how and when to use different techniques and materials. Over the course of year students complete ten such labs culminating in the creation of a rainbow made using buffers and indicators.