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AP Friday Science Outreach Continues This Year


Writer(s): Steve Scherer

dr li.jpg

The Purdue College of Science K-12 Outreach team is continuing its AP Friday lab sessions this fall.

In September, Advanced Placement chemistry students from Frontier High School in Chalmers, Ind., visited campus to participate in an electrochemistry lab developed by Professor Christina Li.

“We planned a set of electrochemistry lab experiments for the students. The first part was meant to dovetail directly with the AP chemistry curriculum, measuring standard reduction potentials for a set of metal-based redox couples and utilizing the Nernst equation to predict and measure how standard potentials change with ion concentration,” explained Christina Li, assistant professor of inorganic chemistry.

“The second part of the lab was the one that I was most excited about it. I put together a battery design challenge, where they had to utilize the principles they learned in the first part to design their own battery using a set of household items. We gave them things like vinegar, soda, and salt to use as electrolytes; copper strips, iron nails, and zinc foil to use as electrodes; and coffee filters and plastic cups. They had to come up with their own battery design, come up with an experimental plan, and test out different configurations and conditions to get the highest potential for their battery. The students really got into it and came up with some creative solutions,” added Li.

“At the conclusion of this activity, as each group reported what they had discovered, Professor Li and her grad students, Nicole Escorcia and Vamakshi Yadav, gave each group feedback about their design – a valuable interaction with a Purdue faculty member,” explained Sarah Nern, Science Express director and Chemistry outreach coordinator.

“I hope that the battery design component of the lab gave the students a new way of thinking about science and showed that science isn’t just boring stuff that they learn from a textbook. I wanted them to get a taste for what scientific research is about, i.e. tackling a question to which you don’t already know the answer and coming up with an experimental plan to solve a real-world problem,” explained Li.

Nern says the AP Friday program was designed to promote the College of Science and give advanced high school students an opportunity to both visit and complete a content-specific lab in a Purdue laboratory facility.

“Many of the students in today’s lab are seniors, so this is a nice introduction to the college experience for them,” said Stacy Snoble, a Frontier High School science teacher.

“The labs that we select for AP Fridays at Purdue typically require the use of lab equipment that the visiting schools might not be able to access and therefore wouldn’t be able to complete the lab on their own,” Nern added.

This is the second year that AP Fridays have been offered by the College of Science.

Dr. Li assists students with lab

Chemistry Professor Christina Li assists Frontier High School students with electrochemistry lab experiment.

Electrochemistry lab experiment at Purdue

Professor Li and her graduate students give each student group feedback on their experimental design.

Frontier HS lab at Purdue

Frontier High School teacher Stacy Snoble (center) works with her students in Hampton Hall on the Purdue University campus.

Photos by Steve Scherer, Purdue Chemistry