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Introduction to Analytical Chemistry (Pompano)

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    Lesson Plan

    Chem 4090, 1st day of class

    1. Introductions [15 min] – me, TA, students, course setup
    2. Break into groups of four [5-6 min] – introduce selves to each other
      1. Groups are pre-assigned based on a pre-course survey to mix up levels of preparation

    Active Part

    Group Question I

    [students write on boards in groups]

    1. What are some chemicals/samples that are useful to measure? For example, measuring [CO2] in air.  Creatinine in urine. 

      Many students have prior knowledge of this and it gets the class participating. 

    1. For each measurement, if you know what technique could be used to measure it, list that too.

    Followup discussion led by me: 

    • These are all applications of analytical chemistry!
      • Applications are broad: environmental, space, biomedical, etc applications
    • Point out that analytical chem contains both qualitative and quantitative analysis, and also "characterization" of samples
    • Potential techniques include spectroscopy, separations, electrochemistry, and mass spec
      • We will cover each of these techniques in class this semester

    Group Question II

    [on boards]:  [25 min including followup]

    Suppose you are interested in the amount of lead in water, or a protein in blood.  From a scientific perspective, how might you go about developing a method to measure the molecule in this sample?

    1. I'm not asking you to name a technique or actually design a method. Rather, think at a meta level about how you would approach this challenge.
    2. What information do you need to gather before you can even get started?
    3. What decisions do you need to make?
    4. Hint: Think about the scientific method.  Tailor it to analytical chemistry… the science of measurement and detection.
    5. Hint: consider whether the process is unidirectional or might loop back at some point.

    They write on their boards, I circulate and comment; we eventually discuss as a group.

    This is the "analytical approach to solving problems" … aka Analytical method development.


    Follow up:

    • Draw the cycle on the board as the students name parts of it.
    • Point out that the most creative part of an analytical chemist's work may be step #1 and #2 -- defining the problem and designing the method. After that, conducting it might be routine, unless the method requires the development of new technology. 
    • BS level job = #3 + #4
    • PHD level job = all five steps and cycle repeatedly

    Contributors and Attributions

    • Rebecca Pompano, University of Virginia (
    • Adapted from unpublished course notes of Jill Venton, University of Virginia

    This page titled Introduction to Analytical Chemistry (Pompano) is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Contributor.