The purpose of making this change to the Thermoelectric lab was to add a little bit of programming, electronics design, and micorcomupting experience to a traditionally manual lab. In adding this change, student engagement also improved.
The Old Approach
The traditional approach to this lab involved students setting up the experiment and then manually reading a couple of meters (voltage and 2 temperatures), and writing down the data points on paper, periodically as the lab progressed. Later, the students transferred their data to a spreadsheet and plotted a graph for their lab notebook.
The New Approach
In the new approach, we substituted the multimeter and thermocouple meters with a microcomputer known as the Arduino, jumper wires, and temperature sensors. In this approach, the students are actually building their own lab instrument, writing code to process the data live, and capturing the data for additional processing. Also, the students could actually see live graphing of the data as the experiment progressed.
Click Here to watch a video demonstrating the new approach.
Lab created by Chemistry Professors Dr. Kondepudi, Dr. Geyer, and the Instructional Technology Consultant Tommy Murphy