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AP Chemistry Video Lab Book

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Keywords: Chemistry, Laboratory, Videos
Subject(s): Chemistry
Grades 10 through 12
School: Wheaton-Warrenville South HS, Wheaton, IL
Planned By: Phil Culcasi
Original Author: Phil Culcasi, Wheaton
During a typical year of AP Chemistry the students perform upwards of twenty five laboratory experiments. Students are then held responsible for all of this material on the AP Chemistry exam given each May. When it comes time to review for the exam, students have trouble remembering the specifics of a lab that they did months before. This is why they are required to keep lab notebooks. They have a record of the techniques used in each lab as well as the results of each lab. But today's students are moving toward a more virtual classroom. Their books are online, as is their homework. So why not have an online laboratory notebook?
The goal of this lesson is to create short videos of each lab that we do using FLIP cameras. FLIP cameras are easy to use because the camera contains a USB plug that allows for easy transfer of video. The cameras are also perfect for 20 or 30 seconds of video which is all students will need. The idea here is to have a camera for each lab table in my classroom. Students will see me to sign out a camera either when they are assigned to take a video of a lab technique or of a lab result. They will be also free to sign out a camera any time they see something interesting or "cool" happen in the lab.
Students will then edit the video using the software already loaded on each camera and upload the file to our AP Chemistry wiki page. The videos will be compiled there in a virtual scrapbook of our year in the laboratory. Every student in the class will have access to these videos. In sort of a social networking situation, the class can then comment on or summarize each video in the list. Since I serve as the administrator of the wiki page, I can assign students to write about each video. We can then document all of the lab techniques that we use during the year - from gravimetric titrations to electrochemical cells and everything in between. The videos can also be edited to take still photos from the video so we can compile photos of all of the colors that we see during the year. In this manner students can easily check the color of the cobalt solution that we used in a lab six weeks ago.
Descriptive chemistry is a significant portion of the AP Chemistry exam so I am hoping the online photos will serve to prepare students better for the exam. Giving students ownership of this virtual video lab book will help not only with exam preparation, but it will help build up the community spirit that makes teaching this class so much fun.
This is a year long lesson that can be applied to other levels of chemistry as soon as a class wiki page is created.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
The video chemistry laboratory book will be posted on a page that can possibly be viewed by students in other courses. Students in biology or physics can review the videos as needed.
Students will then be asked to write summaries or even formal lab reports to accompany each video. The videos and summaries will then be posted and peer reviewed on the wiki site.
Materials: Flip Video, High, Web Page