- High School
“A 2-year-old boy has just been admitted to the emergency room in serious condition. The doctor suspects poisoning. The boy’s bottle has been brought to your lab for testing. You must solve the case."
This is not the introduction to a popular crime TV show, but rather the scenario that grade 9 and grade 10 students were faced with when they arrived at teacher Erica Neal’s Chemistry class recently, prepared to learn about analytical chemistry.
Analytical Chemistry focuses on discovering and identifying unknown substances and is an important part of Forensic Science, where chemists are tasked with analyzing evidence to help investigators solve crimes.
"Analytical Chemistry focuses on discovering and identifying unknown substances."
HS Science Teacher, Erica Neal
With their real-world case study in hand, students became forensic scientists for the day and were tasked with determining the contents of the bottle. In doing so, they learned the difference between a pure substance and a mixture, while also learning multiple techniques for separating mixtures, as they compared the properties of many common household products.
Using their results, the student forensic scientists were able to make a final determination and identify if the bottle did, in fact, contain a poisonous substance. But the work did not end there. Like all great lead investigators, teacher Erica Neal will require that students submit a case report supporting their findings.