Reflection: Classroom Setup Electron Fireworks - Section 4: Flame Tests & Spectral Tubes


This activity worked to mixed results.  Students reported being able to see the distinct spectral lines using the spectral tubes, but did not capture them consistently.  When students came to the front of the room to look at the flame tests, they were able to see the visual colors very clearly, but the flames were not bright enough to view the spectral lines through the scopes.

The day of this lab was a bright sunny day, and the light pollution from the classroom windows overrode the light from the flame tests.  While students were still able to get some data, and were enthralled by the light show, they were unable to get a complete data set that would really allow them to address the conclusions we desired of them.

In the past, I have hung tablecloths over the windows and door to black out the room, but due to sharing rooms this year, I chose to skip that hassle of hanging, moving, and re-hanging. 

Another option would have been to spread the lab over two days and set up the bunsen burners to do traditional flame tests with the ionic crystals and wet wood splits.  However, due to the early time of the school year, and lack of student training in the lab, I chose to side with student safety over concrete results.

A good investment for this lab is episode 5 of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.  The episode deals with the wave theory of light and the discovery of atomic orbitals.  The visuals are the best I've seen for showing how light waves correspond to the Bohr Model.

  Classroom Setup: When lab goes wrong...
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Electron Fireworks

Unit 1: Atomic Structure
Lesson 10 of 10

Objective: SWBAT interpret flame tests as evidence of the Bohr Model of the Atom

Big Idea: Connecting energy and matter at the microscale from macroscale observations.

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  50 minutes
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