5 Creative Ways to Teach About Spectrophotometry and Spectrophotometers

Akanksha Saxena

Do your students know that spectrophotometry can “reveal hidden colors” that are invisible to the human eye? The next time you begin your lesson, this could be an interesting fact to start off the topic with! Spectrophotometers can detect and measure light across a wide range of wavelengths, including ultraviolet and infrared regions. By analyzing the absorption and transmission of light by a sample, spectrophotometers can unveil subtle color variations that our eyes are unable to perceive. While the instrument is called a spectrophotometer, the technique is referred to as spectrophotometry.

While this technique with its remarkable capability has found applications in various fields ranging from analyzing pigments in artworks to identifying trace amounts of chemicals in environmental samples, it can be a little overwhelming for new learners. So, we list 5 creative ways here to simplify teaching the core concepts of this subject to your students in the next session.

1. Use Interactive Models and Simulations

Interactive models and simulations are great options to revolutionize the teaching of spectrophotometry and spectrophotometers. They can captivate students' attention as:

  • Visual Engagement: Interactive models provide ‘visually appealing representations of spectrophotometry processes’, such as light absorption and transmission. Students can witness the dynamic changes in spectra and observe the effects of different parameters, fostering a deeper understanding of the subject.
  • Real-time Feedback: Interactive simulations like the Spectrophotometry Simulation by Labster offer instant feedback, providing students with immediate information about the outcomes of their actions. This will help them make connections between their experimental choices and the resulting data, reinforcing their understanding and facilitating a sense of achievement. 
Preview of ENL 2 simulation.
Discover Labster's Spectrophotometer virtual lab today!

2. Learning with Games and Activities

Gamification elements are other great elements to simplify the complex and core ideas of spectrophotometry. By infusing fun and interactive games and activities into the learning process, educators can make complex concepts more accessible.

Through Labster’s educational games, teachers like Shawn Zeringue have been able to deliver important points on scientific topics. In the Labster’s Spectrophotometer Game, as the students assemble their spectrophotometer, they can learn how the device uses light for measuring the concentration of different solutions. They can also understand a spectrophotometer’s functioning, and its major components and correlate them to their functions which can otherwise be quite boring.

3. Infusing Technology into Study Plans

To engage students in the modern era, infusing technology into study plans presents an innovative approach to teaching spectrophotometry and spectrophotometers. Virtual labs like Labster’s and software applications enable students to conduct virtual spectrophotometry experiments in a safe and cost-effective environment while also promoting flexible learning and self-paced study.

Incorporating technology into study plans not only keeps students actively engaged but also prepares them for the digital age, equipping them with essential technological literacy and skills.

One of the notable features of “Virtual Explorations” is that they allow the exploration of complex and inaccessible scenarios, such as analyzing the absorption properties of rare compounds or studying phenomena at extreme wavelengths. This virtual exploration expands students' horizons, igniting their curiosity and encouraging them to delve deeper into the subject.

4. Inspiring Learners by Connecting to Career Prospects

Educators can also rely on a time-tested approach of connecting the topic to its career prospects to showcase its value and benefits of learning it. You can highlight the diverse career opportunities where skills to handle a spectrophotometer are highly looked out for:

  1. Analytical Chemist
  2. Biochemist
  3. Forensic Scientist
  4. Materials Scientist
  5. Environmental Scientist
  6. Quality Control Specialist
  7. Pharmaceutical Scientist
  8. Food Scientist
  9. Research Scientist
  10. Medical Laboratory Scientist

5. Connecting the Topic to Real-World Applications

Educators can motivate their students to learn the underlying principles of spectrophotometry by connecting the topic to its real-world applications. By showcasing the paramount importance of this technique in various fields like research, medicine, environmental monitoring, art restoration, chemical manufacturing, etc, you can initiate your students onto a journey of self-learning.

Several things can be planned to do this:

  • Integrating case studies
  • Showing industry examples
  • Discussing recent relevant research findings

Final thoughts

Spectrophotometry is an amazing technique that truly expands our perception of color, uncovering a vibrant world beyond our visual spectrum. While all of us have used it in our undergraduate, post-graduate, and graduate research works, we can’t ignore its importance in Biology labs. For the next-gen scientists (our students) to be well-versed with the scientific principles underlying the functioning of spectrophotometers, educators must adopt creative approaches to make the topic easier and more comprehensible.

Try our free 30-day All Access Educator's Pass today and play the Spectrophotometry and Spectrophotometers simulation alongside 300+ other virtual labs!
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