Experiential Experiments


This week we are doing an extension of the “isolation of caffeine from tea” experiment. The student

s bring in their own caffeinated beverage and plan a experimental procedure to extract caffeine from this beverage. Last year we did this experiment as an extension of the “caffeine from tea” lab so that the two experiments counted as one two-week experiment. This year, the “Caffeine from Beverages” is a separate experiment. I added a Food Chemistry and Technology article to the experimental handout and a more extensive spectroscopy and chromatography interpretation section to the laboratory report. The caffeine experiments generate significant enthusiasm by the students. For many of them, the caffeine content of beverages is an important aspect of their lives. On the other hand the caffeine labs are not very challenging in terms of scientific rigor. I have done the caffeine from tea lab very easily with non-majors. In addition, it does not fit particularly well with the current lecture material. However, it does highlight some important organic chemistry techniques of UV spectroscopy, experimental design, and HPLC. In some cases, I think, that it is as important to develop labs that connect well with students’ interests and experiences as it is to develop labs that reinforce the lecture material.



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  1. […] For my part, we did an analysis of energy drinks. This experiment was adapted from the “caffeine extraction” sophomore organic chemistry laboratory sequence. First, we did a colorimetric array for each of […]

  2. […] “Caffeine from Beverages” ochemonline.wordpress.com […]

  3. […] This year, the “Caffeine from ochemonline.wordpress.com […]

  4. […] the “isolation of caffeine ochemonline.wordpress.com […]

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