Technology in the Lab
Laboratory activities may be performed with data collection instruments that interface directly with computers or calculators. For example, digital sensors can be used for pH testing and water quality analysis. Once collected, these data are displayed on clearly labeled graphs, and students can easily interpret data.
At the high school chemistry level, advanced data analysis can take place with the help of technology. From digitally collected data, students can generate regression equations and lines of best fit to allow for interpolation and extrapolation to draw conclusions. The Journal of Chemical Education, The Science Teacher, and Mathematics Teacher journals are sources of investigations that use these devices, many of which may be used on a smaller scale—resulting in less waste and greater safety (see Environmental Considerations).
Videos of lab apparatus or advanced lab techniques can be created to assist students with a new experiment or method. Or if a student is absent from class the day of an experiment or demonstration, a video can provide him or her with the visual experience that other students we exposed to.
With access to shared documents, class data sets may be collected for more accurate data analysis. For example, when conducting a titration, a class set of data can easily be generated and shared. This provides students an opportunity to consider erroneous data points within a large set of data, rather than the limited two or three trials they conducted.
Although the use of technology is crucial to provide students with a modern education, it is important for students to understand the underlying chemistry principles and be able to articulate them.