For a first-year (10th-grade), high-school course, a Vernier Inc. spectrophotometer might be considered to be an expensive item of equipment ($449.00 during 2011). Compared to professional UV-Visible spectrometers, it is a bargain. During 2011, I assumed that only a single spectrometer might be available for five teams of students. My objective in 2011 was to identify different types of solutions that could be analyzed by each of the five teams. At the end of the laboratory session, each team would take home their results and analyze them. During a subsequent laboratory period, each team would – using a computer projector – present and discuss results.
I selected spectroscopy for a first-year, high-school course because I considered it to be a universal measurement instrument for molecules that have color and absorb within the visible region of 380 to 950 nanometers (violet to near infrared).
During 2011, I created my “home chemistry laboratory” as a trial run for a possible 1st-year introductory-chemistry laboratory at Holy Cross Regional School, Lynchburg VA. In my home lab, I performed many spectrophotometer measurements, especially on (1) safe, inexpensive, food colors (available at a supermarket), (2) light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which I purchased online, and (3) solutions of soluble, transition-metal salts, which I also purchased online.