5 Engaging Ways to Teach Tollen’s Test to Help Students Understand

Akanksha Saxena

Tollen's test is a valuable tool in the world of organic chemistry, specifically for distinguishing aldehydes from ketones. Understanding the principles behind Tollen's test can be challenging, especially for students encountering organic chemistry for the first time. Nonetheless, mastering this test is essential for grasping the fundamentals of this fascinating branch of science. 

Educators are challenged in numerous ways while teaching this topic. To deal with this muddle, we list 5 creative ways that can make the learning journey smooth for your students.

1. Use Interactive Models and Simulations

Educators can experiment with different types of interactive models and simulations available in the scientific sphere to improve the knowledge of basic concepts among their students. Since these models bridge the gaps of visualization and allow for active participation, learners can better comprehend the topic’s core ideas. 

For example, virtual chemistry software like ChemDraw or molecular modeling programs can enable students to construct and explore different organic structures, including aldehydes and ketones. 

Alternatively, online interactive simulation on Tollen’s Test provided by Labster provides an option for virtual lab experiments and interactive tutorials. As extensive hands-on experience is offered in this virtual lab, a diversity of students’ needs can be catered to.

2. Learning with Games and Activities

There is scientific evidence that gamifying education has promising benefits when games and activities are aligned with educational goals by integrating appropriate learning content and providing meaningful and challenging experiences for students. Labster has designed an interesting game to aid teachers’ efforts while educating students about Tollen’s test. As students perform the test on a variety of food materials, they can predict the nature of their samples whether it has reduced sugar or not!

A golden rule of Labster’s games is to take care of student motivation, provision of feedback, while implementing gamification in education.  

Preview of Make a prediction simulation.
Discover Labster's Tollen’s Test virtual lab today!

3. Infusing Technology into Study Plans

Technology is already widely being utilized in organic chemistry research labs across the globe, revolutionizing research, education, and industry practices. Educators can also transform the education sector by embracing technology like organic chemists who are continually pushing the boundaries of knowledge, accelerating research processes, and fostering innovative approaches to advance the field.

Some of the recommended ways in which educators can make a difference in teaching are:

  • Use of Online Databases: There are many online databases like PubChem, ChemSpider, and Scifinder that provide vast repositories of chemical information that can be enlightening for students.
  • Virtual Laboratories: Virtual laboratories like the highly-updated Tollen’s Test Virtual Lab by Labster offer simulated environments where students can perform the test with the material of their interest in a virtual space. Not only can students learn the test, but they also practice it over and over again without the fear to commit mistakes.

4. Inspiring Learners by Connecting to Career Prospects

Teaching about Tollen's test can be made more effective by incorporating activities where students can look up to someone who is actively using the technique in their professional domain. This can serve as a great motivator for them to hone their skills. Some ways in which educators can motivate their students are:

  • Talks by Industry Guest Speakers
  • Discussion of Case Studies
  • Career Path Exploration Activities
  • Field Trips and Internships
  • Alumni Connections 

5. Connecting the Topic to Real-World Applications

Making connections between Tollen's test and its real-world applications is essential for effective teaching. By demonstrating the practical relevance of the concept in various fields like food chemistry, pharmaceuticals, environmental analysis, and biochemical research, educators can showcase how the test is solve real-world problems. 

As students grasp the broader implications of Tollen's test, they won’t only develop critical thinking skills but will also aim to learn it better for their academic and professional journeys. Labster fills the gap by making students see the real-world application of the Tollen's test through its simulation where your students can work with Dr. One and get step-by-step guidance as they process the samples through the test.

Preview of Shaking test tubes simulation.

Final thoughts

We understand that teaching is more challenging in recent times due to various factors like the larger class sizes, changing curriculums, and evolving students' learning needs which create new demands on teachers to adapt their instructional methods. The COVID-19 pandemic has also added new challenges, forcing teachers to quickly shift to remote or hybrid learning models and deal with new issues like digital equity and the impact of social distancing on student engagement.

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


  1. Caponetto, I., Earp, J., & Ott, M. (2014, October). Gamification and education: A literature review. In European Conference on Games Based Learning (Vol. 1, p. 50). Academic Conferences International Limited.
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