Advances in Teaching Inorganic Chemistry in Laboratories

Organizer: Richard H Langley, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Stephen F. Austin State University, Box 13006, Nacogdoches, TX 75962, tel: (936) 468-3606 Emain:

The Symposium began with a presentation by D. Paul Rillema, Wichita State University entitled physical and photophysical properties of [Ru(bpy)3](PF6)2: An advanced inorganic chemistry experiment.  This presentation focused on the synthesis of the title compound.  Then there was a discussion of how its electronic properties, examined by visible/UV spectroscopy, emission spectroscopy and electrochemistry, are applicable to an upper level inorganic chemistry laboratory.

The second paper as co-presented by Mark A. Benvenuto, and Matthew J. Mio, University of Detroit Mercy.  The title of their presentation was coordination chemistry experiments with numerous possibilities, for the undergraduate, inorganic lab course: Including links to the organic lab.  Their paper examined the combination of numerous multi-dentate ligands, which include at least two primary amines, with multi-functional aldehydes allows the creation of highly multi-dentate ligands for use as starting points for coordination chemistry experiments.  The ease of synthesis and rapid visual color changes make these materials ideal for qualitative or quantitative inorganic chemistry laboratory courses.  In addition, the organic synthetic step prior to the production of metal-organic complexes makes them very suitable as experiments that can bridge the inorganic and organic chemistry laboratory courses.

Richard Langley, Stephen F. Austin State University, then presented solid-state experiments for advanced chemistry students, which focused on a solid-state inorganic experiment designed for fourth-year chemistry majors. In this experiment, students synthesize a compound and determine its density, measure its magnetic susceptibility, and analyze its powder x-ray diffraction pattern. This experiment differs from other similar experiments in that each student synthesizes a different compound. There are three sets of compounds to choose between. One set is primitive cubic (perovskite), one is body-centered cubic (garnet), and the final set is face-centered cubic (spinel).

After the intermission Richard Langley, Stephen F Austin State University, presented teaching inorganic concepts through descriptive inorganic chemistry experiments.  The talk focused on the development of experiments for a descriptive inorganic laboratory course.  This course consists of a number of experiments that examine the chemistry of various columns across the periodic table.  The experiments emphasize student observations and independent work.

In another presentation, Richard Langley, Stephen F Austin State University, discussed a comparison of the transition metals through descriptive inorganic chemistry experiments.  These are a series of descriptive inorganic experiments, which examine the periodic properties of transition metals.  The metal ions surveyed are those of Y, La, Ce, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, and Zn and there are eighteen tests run on each metal ion.  The talked finished with a discussion of common student misconceptions.

The final talk in the Symposium was by Michael J. Karney, CEM Corporation, who discussed general (microwave) chemistry for first-year undergraduates.  The presentation included several basic chemical experiments applicable to a general chemistry laboratory.  There were both inorganic and organic experiments.  All experiments utilized microwave chemistry.  Some safety issues were addressed as was reasons why a normal microwave oven would not work.