Chemistry 133, Spring, 2011

Term Project Rules



The purposes of the term projects are to gain experience in completing work in an independent manner (within the group) using instruments for chemical analysis and to understand the process of developing an analytical method (or perhaps other developmental activities).



Students will work in groups of two, and students can choose their own lab partners. Only one poster per group will need to be turned in.



You have the choice of examining potential projects given in a list of possible term projects (see p. 3) or coming up with your own term projects. The Journal of Chemical Education, as well as through the textbook's website:, are places to look for possible experiments. Two types of project have been common in the past: 1) projects using an instrument for the qualitative/quantitative analysis of compounds present in specific samples (most common) and 2) projects involving construction of simple instruments. The projects will be defined by instruments needed mainly because of limited numbers of specific instruments. If you are planning on working on a project not on the list or significantly modifying a listed experiment, you should contact me fairly soon, since we may not have the equipment to do the experiment. You will not be allowed to work on a project related to a research project you have already been working on - although you can work on projects related to research or other class projects that you are just starting. For example, I helped a Quantitative Analysis student last semester determine the concentration of glucose in native and genetically modified cells. Many of the projects will have a Journal of Chemical Education article to help you get started.

Many projects can be completed fairly easily with the equipment that we have (or modified so that they can be completed), although it is common for operating conditions for instruments to be different than in the regular labs or listed in the articles. Groups will need to find out what standards, reagents or special equipment that needs to be ordered fairly quickly to ensure that they are available when work on the projects begins. More importantly, students will need to make sure the instruments we have are capable of providing the needed performance (e.g. detection limit) for the project.


Term Project Schedule:


Turn In


Grade Percent

Choose Partner/Topic

Sign up on sheet

Feb. 17


Project Proposal

1 page - summary of plans plus needed equipment and supplies

March 17


Progress Report

1 paragraph

April 26



1 poster board

May 20*


Review of posters

1 page form

May 20*


*This will be during the Chemistry Department's Commencement Party. The current expected date is May 22

The project proposal must include: a) a project title, b) the project goal or goals, c) a brief background (significance of project goals and results of literature search), d) a brief outline of the work you intend to do, e) a list of any supplies, reagents or specialized equipment that you need, f) an estimate of the amount of time you need on which instrument, and g) a schedule of your planned activities.


The progress report should indicate what steps have been taken on the proposal schedule and if you expect to have any changes to the project objectives. Any preliminary results should be briefly summarized.


You will be required to produce a poster. The poster on your term project must be presented at a scheduled public poster session during the Chemistry Dept.'s graduation party (typically the Friday of Final's week). Students are expected to be present during the hour or so of the poster session to discuss their poster with others in attendance at the session. If you wish to reclaim the poster, you will need to turn in a copy of all text, graphics, and spectra on the poster. The separate copy also is due the same date and time.

The poster board must be a foldable, commercial poster board that folds in two places. When folded, the board must measure 24" x 36", and when unfolded, it must measure 48" x 36". All printing must be done on a laser, inkjet, or near letter quality dot matrix printer. Be sure to use a larger font than you would in your lab reports so that the poster can be read from 2' away. Spectra/Chromatograms should be copy machine reduced in size or electronically embedded. Note: you are not required to electronically embed spectra in you text. All paper must be glued to the poster board - No Tape!

The poster must include the following parts:

1.      Descriptive title in bold face large size font.

2.      Your names

3.      An Abstract. A three to five sentence abstract single spaced.

4.      Introduction - including the objective of the project and why such a project is of interest.

5.      Experimental Section. The experimental section should describe the equipment you used, references for methods that you used or modified and a brief description of the analytical methods employed.

6.      Results and Discussion. This section describes in test what you did and your results. Make good use of graphs and tables. Indicate if you were successful in meeting your objectives (in most cases - these means a discussion of whether you could analyze for the desired compound in the sample type requested). Indicate how well the analysis method performed (think about the various ways to measure performance). You can also spend some time discussing problems in getting a method to work and how these problems were overcome.

7.      Conclusions. Certainly you can draw some reasonable conclusions based on your results.


At the time the poster presentations occur, you will be required to review other posters. Instructions on the review will be given later.



Topics List:

Below is a short list of possible term project topics. You also can look at the back section of Chapters in the Harris textbook labeled "Experiments". These list a number of experiments, primarily from J. Chem. Ed. Besides experiments listed below, there are other possibilities such as the use the LabVIEW equipment (past students constructed a hydrogen gas detector), use of FTIR spectroscopy, use of UV-Visible spectroscopy, and use of GC-MS. Additionally, you are welcome to do collaborative projects with a faculty member doing research as long as you can make it clear to me that you are doing new work.


Separation Science

1.      Analysis of sugars in various foods/beverages using HPLC-CAD (see instructor and J. Chem. Ed., 1993, 70, 679 article shows HPLC-electrochemical detection method to get an idea of types of standards and samples to use).

2.      Use of solid phase microextraction (SPME) in conjunction with GC (see J. Chem. Ed., 2006, 83, 1349). There also are 4 other experiments listed in J. Chem. Ed. (under the search using SPME).

3.      I also have had past student analyze mouthwash or cough syrup for ethanol using headspace GC. This may require modification of the GC so that the packed column can be used with the FI detector.

4.      We also have an electrochemical detector for an HPLC. The last time I taught the class students put it together and demonstrated that it worked. It could be used for the analysis of vitamin C or for the analysis of phenolic compounds (e.g. vanillin).


Electrochemistry and Other Methods

5.      Square wave voltammetry for analysis of preservatives in vegetable oil (see J. Chem. Ed., 2006, 83, 1349).

6.      Annodic stripping voltammetry for analysis of Cd, Pb, and Cu in water (see J. Chem. Ed., 1983, 60, 1074; J. Chem. Ed., 2007, 84, 312).


Spectroscopic Methods of Analysis

7.      Analysis of metals by visible spectroscopy using reagents (see J. Chem. Educ., 1982, 59, 688).

8.      Fluorescence Analysis (see J. Chem. Educ., 1999, 76, 85). Additionally, I think it should be possible to quantify total capsaicinoids by fluorescence (maybe requiring solid phase extraction isolation of the capsaicinoids first).

9.      Use of atomic absorption (flame or graphite furnace) for analysis of river/tap water samples or other samples for certain metals (see e.g. J. Chem. Educ., 1999, 76, 1678).