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8 Chemistry Lab Experiments that are Easier to Teach with Labster

Ginelle Testa
Teaching with Labster
December 5, 2022

You want the best chemistry labs for your students. Maybe lesson planning is taking up too much time, you’re recycling the same labs over and over, chemistry lab equipment is too expensive, or you’re a new teacher. 

Whatever the case, we’ve gathered 8 chemistry lab experiments you can teach your students. We’ve also matched accompanying virtual labs that can help teach some of the experiments.

  1. Chemistry Safety
  2. Periodic Table of Elements
  3. NMR Spectroscopy
  4. Molecular Resonance
  5. Mass Spectrometry
  6. Flow Injection Analysis
  7. Bomb Calorimetry
  8. Atomic Structure

1. Chemistry Safety

Chemistry safety is essential to learn before students get into the lab. Wouldn’t it be nice if students could mess up without consequence while they learn it? That’s exactly what happens in virtual labs! They can mess up virtually, so they won’t mess up in the classroom. 

In Labster’s Chemistry Safety simulation, students will learn how to work with organic solvents safely. They’ll experiment with dangerous chemicals and make mistakes without putting themselves or others in danger.

Labster Chemistry Safety simulation where several safety symbols are depicted and students are asked to select one that matches the prompt


2. Periodic Table of Elements 

What’s easier, having a student memorize the periodic table of elements or playing a game where they have to organize the periodic table in a certain amount of time? In a periodic table, chemical elements are arranged in groups and periods according to their atomic number, electron configuration, and chemical properties. Give students a chance to have fun while learning!

In Labster’s Periodic Table of Elements simulation, students will observe the elements’ characteristics, test their flame color, and investigate trends in atomic properties. Their mission is to figure out where a number of fallen-out elements belong.

3. NMR Spectroscopy

NMR spectroscopy is usually the least available to students despite the applications of NMR spectroscopy being the most commonly used characterization technique in organic and inorganic chemistry. With Labster, this tool is readily available for students to learn.

In Labster’s Proton NMR simulation, students will use proton NMR spectroscopy to elucidate the structure of an unknown organic compound. They’ll work with the fundamental concepts and functional groups needed to get started using this powerful technique.

Labster proton NMR simulation proton where students use an NMR spectroscopy to elucidate the structure of an unknown organic compound

4. Molecular Resonance

This topic can be incredibly theoretical for students. What if you could see this concept on the molecular level? It’s possible with Labster. In chemistry, the term resonance is used to describe instances where the actual electronic distribution in a molecule combines several contributing structures. The contributing structures are known as resonance structures or resonance forms.

In Labster’s Principles of Molecular Resonance simulation, students will learn the theory behind one of the critical phenomena in organic chemistry, known as molecular resonance. They’ll observe how the electrons in a molecule can delocalize in the structure and relate molecular resonance to systems with conjugated double bonds.

5. Mass Spectrometry

It can be challenging for classrooms to access a mass spectrometer, leaving learning to theory. One of the coolest things about virtual labs is access to instruments students wouldn’t usually be able to use! 

A mass spectrometer is an analytical instrument used to measure the exact molecular mass of a sample by breaking the initial molecule into smaller, charged fragments. A mass spectrometer could be used either to identify an unknown compound or validate the product of a synthetic process, by calculating the molecule's mass-to-charge ratio. The three fundamental parts of a mass spectrometer are the ionization source, the mass analyzer, and the detector.

In Labster’s Mass Spectrometry simulation, students will learn all there is to know about the basic functionalities of a mass spectrometer, and they’ll master spectra interpretation with examples that mimic a real-life exam.

6. Flow Injection Analysis

This is another apparatus that may be inaccessible in the classroom. Flow injection analysis (FIA) is an approach to chemical analysis. It is accomplished by injecting a plug of sample into a flowing carrier stream.

Labster’s Flow Injection Analysis simulation, students can help scientists measure the concentration of caffeine in drinks. Further, they can explore the different parts of the FIA machine in detail through a 3D animation that illustrates the main mechanisms of the machine. 

Labster Flow Injection Analysis simulation screenshot featuring a series of vials in an FIA machine

7. Bomb Calorimetry

You can try burning a marshmallow in class but it’s not quite as interesting as getting to see the inside of a bomb calorimeter! A calorimeter is a device used to measure the change in heat associated with a chemical reaction. The actual output from a calorimeter is a change in temperature of the reaction medium or a water bath. 

In Labster’s Thermodynamics simulation, students will learn the fundamental thermodynamic concepts of enthalpy, entropy and Gibbs free energy. They’ll also determine the internal energy of a chemical compound by using bomb calorimetry, and even travel inside the calorimeter to see it in action!

8. Atomic Structure 

It’s impossible for students to get an up close and personal view of atoms and ions, but with virtual labs they’ll go right to the molecular level view. Atomic structure refers to the structure of an atom comprising a nucleus (center) in which the protons (positively charged) and neutrons (neutral) are present. 

In Labster’s Atomic Structure simulation, you will get the opportunity to decide what the nucleus of an atom looks like, and you will build anions, cations and various isotopes of an element from scratch. You will do this without the fear of causing a nuclear explosion!

Labster Atomic Structure simulation screenshot featuring various balls representing protons and neutrons that can be placed into a template

Question for consideration:

  • How could you incorporate these virtual labs into your teaching plans?
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