The first three web-based learning modules of the 'Practical Lab Skills' demonstrate
Reviewed by Margaret Carlberg, Cornelia Connelly High School, Anaheim, California, US
The first three web-based learning modules of the ’Practical Lab Skills’ series published by Academy Savant (Fullerton, California, US) demonstrate very clearly many common techniques. They run on networks, intranets and learning management systems, and are available in CD format as well.
The 30-minute modules, each focusing on a single technique such as distillation or volumetric measurements, are self-contained, not being dependent on vocabulary or knowledge from previous modules. The short chapters within each module start with the simplest procedure, very useable for high school students, and proceed to more sophisticated equipment or techniques that would be appropriate in college research or industry.
All of the short movies emphasise safety, and the close-up demonstrations explain and use correct methods for carrying out the process. As a high school chemistry teacher for more than 40 years, I appreciate the convenience of the technology offered by these programs. The live-action photography of the real scientists is outstanding, and the male and female narrators’ voices are excellent. The text can be displayed on the screen under the movie, or not at all, as the teacher or viewer wishes.
The review questions at the end of each chapter are both general and specific, and emphasise aspects such as rate of flow during refluxing, which are important for the experimenter to understand. The quizzes are short (graded individually with a percentage score at the end of the 8-10 questions) and can be taken as a pre-test to help the viewer check his background before he starts. The review questions and quiz, as well as the text of the chapters, can all be printed out.
The extensive glossary in each module contains many basic and advanced concepts, techniques, equipment, and chemicals.
Besides the classroom, using the Savant modules that utilise equipment and techniques would be a valuable learning tools for most lab workers.
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