Instituto Politecnico de Leiria (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 7628-7633
ISBN: 978-84-617-5895-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2016.0742
Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain
Chemistry is a fundamental scientific area involved in Science and Engineering graduate training. Particularly, Organic Chemistry is very relevant for degree programs that involve working with organic substances and materials. One of the hardest problems encountered by chemistry lecturers and instructors is the lack of students’ interest and motivation. This low motivation level is partly due to the students’ difficulties in connecting subject contents with physical reality; their methods of study are frequently based on memorisation, and the poor understanding becomes apparent when they are confronted with new challenges. [1]

Laboratory activities have been reported as useful tools for the improvement of practical understanding of the lectured theoretical contents.

The present work proposes a plan and implementation of a laboratory activity where several topics of organic chemistry program contents will be applied. The activity aims to help the students understand the properties and a specific reaction of a certain functional group, observe solubility and liquid phase partition phenomena, and apply an advanced spectroscopic analytical technique while using real-life materials in the process. It is intended to motivate the students by connecting general program contents to fashionable issues such as the quest for energy sources (biodiesel) that are different from fossile fuels and the utilization of everyday residues (used cooking oil).

A set of preliminary results from a pilot experiment is also presented to validate the feasibility of this project. This includes qualitative and quantitative analysis of the biodiesel obtained from cooking oil and of commercial fuel samples, statistical validation data and analyses of compliance with law and standards. A SWOT analysis is presented at the end to assess the advantage that can be obtained with this proposal and define improvement measures.

[1] Davies, C. (2008). Learning and Teaching in Laboratories. Higher Education Academy Engineering Subject Centre.
Organic Chemistry, biodiesel, lab activity.