Reduced scale chemistry – the way forward for saving money?

Times are hard.  With resources being diverted to save front line staff, money to pay for chemicals and practical activities may be reduced.  I’ve come across reduced scale chemistry before (at ASE events) but was impressed by this video from CLEAPSS that I decided to give it a go.

Like all good science teachers I had to try the experiment myself and I soon produced a small plug of soap with minimal effort (and measuring chemicals was simple and easy since they are both liquids and  small quantities).

The final test of the technique was carrying out the practical with students.  Students found the CLEAPSS method easy to follow and by the end of the lesson we had several samples of soap.  The only problem was getting them out of the test tube since our rape seed oil based soap was very firm, but the students all got to experience making a useful chemical product (handy if you teach BTEC Level 1 Applied Science!).

I’ve tried micro-scale chemistry on courses before but this is the first time I’ve used it with students.  Small quantities of liquid were easy to measure with syringes and pipettes, and having everything in one test tube reduced the opportunity for mistakes.

I’d be interested to hear from anyone else who has tried reduced scale chemistry with their groups and for which practical activities.


Published by Rob Butler

Ex-science teacher, ex-school leader and full-time geek.