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ERIC Number: EJ913317
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Mar
Pages: 3
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 7
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Inquiry-Based Arson Investigation for General Chemistry Using GC-MS
Maurer, Marta K.; Bukowski, Michael R.; Menachery, Mary D.; Zatorsky, Adam R.
Journal of Chemical Education, v87 n3 p311-313 Mar 2010
We have developed a two-week guided-inquiry laboratory in which first-semester general chemistry students investigate a suspected arson using gas chromatography--mass spectrometry and paper chromatography. In the process of evaluating evidence from the crime scene, students develop and test hypotheses and learn the fundamentals of chromatography, including the roles of stationary and mobile phases, polarity, and the effects of molar mass, boiling point, and vapor pressure on the separation of components in a sample. In the first week, students use crime-scene samples to determine optimum experimental parameters for both chromatographic methods, which are then used during the second week to "solve" the crime. The students have responded enthusiastically to the opportunity to perform a "real-life" investigation using modern analytical instrumentation. Inclusion of the paper chromatography module gives students a clear visual representation of separation science and the opportunity to draw comparisons between paper and gas chromatography. (Contains 2 figures.)
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
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A