AP Chemistry Students Participate in Design Lab


Catharine Li

Emilia Adcock ’21 explains the process her group took to carry out their experiment. “We’re using this to de-plate it so we get to find solutions that would react that way with the metals and it’s non-spontaneous,” Adcock said. The students went through lots of trial and error in order to make sure their experiment ran smoothly.

Throughout the first week of December, AP Chemistry students participated in semester design labs, in which they developed their own project procedure and created a summative presentation. The project was organized by chemistry teachers Ms. Natalie Wieland and Mr. Seth Gonzalez in order to provide the students with fun, hands-on experience rather than simple theory. 

The students used their prior knowledge of chemistry to conduct their self-made projects. A group of Mr. Gonzales’ juniors used batteries and coins in their experiment, transferring electrons between the coins by creating an oxidation-reduction (redox) reaction.

“We’re using an electrolytic cell to de-plate the copper off of a penny while using a quarter and a penny as our anode [and] cathode,” Emilia Adcock ‘21 said. “This is a design experiment so we created it ourselves, but it [is related to] the redox unit.”

The experiments allowed the students to create visual evidence for the information that they had obtained over the semester, giving them a deeper level of understanding of complex topics.

“The concept of electrolytic and voltaic cells is not the easiest to wrap your head around; it’s very much on a molecular level,” Adcock said. “It’s hard to visualize the flow of electrons where the chemicals are going but demonstrating it like this does make it easier to see how the reaction works.”

The students gave their final presentation on Friday, Dec. 13.