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ERIC Number: EJ1119580
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Nov
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
A Simple, Student-Built Spectrometer to Explore Infrared Radiation and Greenhouse Gases
Bruce, Mitchell R. M.; Wilson, Tiffany A.; Bruce, Alice E.; Bessey, S. Max; Flood, Virginia J.
Journal of Chemical Education, v93 n11 p1908-1915 Nov 2016
In this experiment, students build a spectrometer to explore infrared radiation and greenhouse gases in an inquiry-based investigation to introduce climate science in a general chemistry lab course. The lab is based on the exploration of the thermal effects of molecular absorption of infrared radiation by greenhouse and non-greenhouse gases. A novel feature of the experiment has students building an infrared spectrometer, using a hot plate as an IR source, a sample compartment employing a plastic cuvette holder with open sides (to standardize the path length), and a low-cost infrared thermometer. Students, working in groups, (1) explore a PhET simulation; (2) design a set of experiments in response to a scientific question, "comparing the absorption of infrared light in the presence and absence of each different sample of gas, are there any significant differences that can be observed experimentally?"; (3) reflect on climate science and their experimental results by visiting the American Chemical Society Climate Science Toolkit; and (4) communicate their results in lab by constructing and presenting a poster. Assessment of student responses to a pre- and postexperiment question suggests that the lab has a positive influence on student understanding of the concepts involved in identifying greenhouse gases. Results from postexperiment questions also provide information for what aspects of the online resources students found useful.
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: 0962805