International Year of Chemistry, 2011

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International Year of Chemistry 2011

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Microscale Experiments in Environmental Chemistry

Activity by Shrivallabh Kamat   |   added on Jan 19, 2011   |   India Official_iyc_logo


Demonstration and hands-on experiences of Microscale Experiments in Environmental Chemistry related to pollution of air by gases like COx, NOx and SOx using microscale kits.


Microscale Experiments in Environmental Chemistry

1. Regarding Experiments in brief:

          1) These experiments are designed to study atmospheric pollution by gases like carbon dioxide and oxides of nitrogen and sulfur.  The major sources of CO2, CO, SO2, SO3 (SOx), NO and NO2 (NOx) are the burning of fossil fuels by vehicles and industries.

          2) Since all of us including laymen are aware of the menace of pollution of air, these experiments can be understood and enjoyed by all students right from Std. VIII to M.Sc.  My experience is that both students as well as teachers of all levels (High School, Higher Secondary, College & University) like these experiments and enjoy them.

          3) These experiments make use of a unique Microscale Technique which in principle can have a wide range of applications i.e. many more different experiments can be performed using this technique.

          4) No Laboratory is required.  All of these experiments can be safely performed in an ordinary classroom.


Regarding the kit in brief

1) The kit is very compact of the size of a lunch tiffin.

2) It is very light and can be sent anywhere in the world by post or courier.  I have sent several kits all over India and even to USA by Post.

3) The contents of the kit is well defined on the label fixed to the lid of the transparent plastic box and can be read from outside as well as inside.  There are in all 24 items in the kit including 11 chemicals and 1 glass absorption tube.  Most of the items are made of plastic.

A copy of the label is printed below:



Contents of the Kit

  1. Booklet

13. Eleven labeled vials containing chemicals

  2. Plastic petri-dish

A. 0.03% Bromo Cresol Green (BCG) indicator

  3. White grid

B. Vinegar or 5% Acetic acid (CH3COOH)

  4. Black paper

C. Baking soda/Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3)

  5. Mini paper towels

D. Lime water Ca(OH)2

  6. Plastic wash-bottle

E. 0.5M Sodium sulphite (Na2SO3)

  7. Gas absorption tube

F. 2M Sulphuric acid (H2SO4)

  8. Nine labeled Pasteur pipettes

G. 2M Ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH)

  9. One labeled Pasteur pipette with fine tip

H. 0.5M Potassium nitrite

10. Plastic scoop/spatula

 I. Starch KI

11. Three empty containers of tablet medicine

J. 0.5M Barium chloride (BaCl2)

12. One unlabeled empty vial

K. 3% Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)


4) The kit is user friendly.  Even a High School student can safely perform all the experiments described in the booklet included in the kit.

5) The quantities of the chemicals and other consumables required are so small that the teacher/user can perform these experiments several times using just 2 mL of the chemicals included in the kit.

6) The booklet also gives detail instructions to the teachers/users how to prepare the solutions of the chemicals by using ordinary balance and other things, which are easily available in schools. Of course this need will arise only when the initially included chemicals are exhausted.

7) If a teacher gets even one such kit, he will be able not only to show or demonstrate these experiments to his/her students but also the students can perform these experiments by themselves.

Conclusion:  If the primary task of a Teacher is to develop interest in the subject and motivate students to learn, then these experiments can go a long way in fulfilling this task.  Students get excited while performing these experiments and thus take lot of interest in the subject.


Topic: chemical education, demonstration, hands-on experiments, microscale experiments Audience: science teachers, students, educators, post graduate students, women chemists, tertiary education, general public, secondary school students, secondary schools, school children, high schools, secondary schools students
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