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Faster Results with New Technology in Chemistry

Students looking at while using new chemistry equipmentEver wonder how much food dye is used in those popular sports drinks? Students in AP Chemistry at Somers High School are using new, cutting-edge lab equipment, purchased through a Somers Education Foundation (SEF) grant, to find out. 

The students have been excited to use the recently acquired Vernier Spectro Vis Spectrophotometers to perform hands-on research. 

“It was easy to get the spectrophotometer going and connected to the Vernier screen,” said Julia Arbelaez. “It’s supposed to be more accurate.”

Students used the spectrophotometers in a lab to study the concentration of food dyes in different sports drinks. Students brought in their favorite sports drinks in a variety of colors and then tried to determine the food dye concentration of each. Students used distilled water with food coloring mixed in to get their first set of data, then recorded data again with undiluted sports drinks.

“There’s a light that travels through the liquid we put in the spectrophotometer, and it records the absorbance of the particles,” Ryleigh Laregina said. “The more particles there are, the higher the absorbance of dye there should be.”

two students using computer and equipments for chemistryThe new spectrophotometer technology works in tandem with the Vernier LabQuest3 devices, which were also bought with an SEF grant last year. Together, this technology provides faster, easier, and more accurate results However, there will still be a need for the Vernier LabQuest3 units on their own as well.

“These spectrophotometers will be used in addition to the older equipment because we still want the students to understand how to do the necessary calculations for absorbance and transmittance,” Ms. Pizzuto said. “This new technology is less steps and more direct, giving students a different experience in the lab.”

The spectrophotometers and Vernier LabQuest3 devices will be used in a variety of labs throughout the year in both AP Chemistry and Embedded Honors Chemistry, allowing students multiple chances to gain experience with this technology. 

“They can use them for any type of lab that requires them to determine a concentration based on either absorbance or transmission of light,” said Ms. Pizzuto.

The new spectrophotometers were one of the grants awarded by SEF this year. SEF is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization that raises funds for student- and teacher-initiated projects that are not otherwise funded within Somers Central School District’s budget.