5 Creative Ways for Students to Learn About a Distillation Apparatus

Job Brisby Eloja

Distillation is a process that separates the components of a mixture. The process takes advantage of the fact that different compounds have different boiling points. Less volatile compounds need higher temperatures to boil, so they will be left in the mixture as the more volatile parts become gases. The gaseous components are then condensed into a separate vessel.

Scientists use a distillation apparatus to facilitate the process. It has many components, and at first glance, it may look complicated to a lot of students. With that, this topic can be a bit difficult to learn.

Despite its complexity, there are effective ways to teach this topic to add to your repertoire. Here are five of those methods.

1. Use Interactive Demonstrations Showing a Distillation Apparatus in Action

It’s one thing to see the different parts of a distillation apparatus. But it’s an entirely different story to see one in action. Students like it a lot more if they see a distillation apparatus doing its job.

Let students see an actual demonstration of a working distillation apparatus. That way, they can learn the functions of each part more easily. They can see for themselves the liquids boiling off on one side of the apparatus and the gases condensing on the other side. This way, they will appreciate the process of distillation more.

2. Use Games and Activities to Make Learning Fun

Complex topics like this one benefit a lot from fun games and activities. As students are having fun, they are also learning. Most of them will not even be aware of it. They’ll never know until they get a high score on a test or pop quiz!

Condenser in a virtual lab.

Games would include simulations like the Exploring a Distillation Apparatus virtual lab from Labster. This simulation lets students explore the various parts of a distillation setup and how each one works. The best part is there is no risk of breaking any real glassware.

Discover Labster's Distillation Apparatus virtual lab today!

3. Use Technology in the Classroom

Technology is a teacher’s best friend in the modern classroom. It can make learning much easier and more engaging for students.

Videos, for example, are great teaching tools. They let students digest complex topics in just a few minutes. Engaging visuals and animations help students master topics more efficiently. Moreover, students can rewind and repeat videos as many times as they want until they master the topic completely.

Online quizzes can also aid mastery. Students can take and retake the quizzes as many times as they want to correct mistakes immediately. The challenge of getting a perfect score will keep them engaged.

4. Introduce Career Paths for Inspiration

There are a number of different careers that use distillation apparatus regularly. These include:

  • Chemist
  • Chemical engineer
  • Liquor brewer
  • Manufacturing process engineer
  • Cosmetics scientist
  • Pharmaceutical chemist

If your students want to take on these kinds of careers, emphasize to them the value of learning distillation. If students find out that this topic will be useful in their future jobs, they will be more inclined to learn it. 

This way, the distillation apparatus will not just be a topic that remains in the classroom. Instead, it will be something that has value for the future.

5. Connect the Topic to the Real World

Students often care less about topics that they think have no applications in the real world. For this reason, it’s crucial to show students how they can use this topic in real life.

Distillation is regularly used in manufacturing beer and wine, for example. Also, the process is used to make ethyl and isopropyl alcohol - two things often used as disinfectants and hand sanitizers.

Also, distillation is needed to make essential oils. If there are students who are fond of using essential oils, they will better appreciate how these oils are manufactured.

Final Thoughts

A distillation apparatus may be a complicated topic to teach, but you can make it easier. You can use technology, fun activities, and real world applications to make students more into it. They can understand this topic better if they know how it’s used in real life and have fun while learning it.

Distilling flask in a virtual lab.

Lab simulations like Labster’s Exploring a Distillation Apparatus virtual lab are particularly helpful. This virtual lab lets students explore how to use distillation equipment in a safe, virtual environment. They can operate the apparatus without worrying about breaking anything expensive. If they make mistakes in the simulation, they can redo it until they master the topic.

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