A qualitative organic analysis that exploits the senses of smell, touch, and sound

Bromfield-Lee, Deborah C.
Oliver-Hoyo, Maria T.
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Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society
This laboratory experiment utilizes the characteristic aromas of some functional groups to exploit the sense of smell as a discriminating tool in an organic qualitative analysis scheme. Students differentiate a variety of compounds by their aromas and based on their olfactory classification identify an unknown functional group. Students then perform chemical tests that rely on the senses of touch, smell, and sound to confirm the functional group present. The use of a light probe enables students to qualitatively analyze many visual changes as an auditory response. Students "hear" significant changes in color, solution viscosity, and the presence of a precipitate. Students group compounds by their functional group characteristic smells, decide on necessary confirmatory tests based on their own classification, and utilize effectively the senses of touch, sound, and smell to identify their unknowns. Student feedback strongly stated they enjoyed the experiment particularly discovering the characteristics of each functional group physically and chemically. Based on the write-ups and performance of the students in the laboratory, it is evident that this sensorial laboratory can add richness to traditional organic laboratories.
Chemistry--Study and teaching (Higher), Senses and sensation, Smell, Touch, Sound
Bromfield-Lee, D. C., & Oliver-Hoyo, M. T. (2007). A qualitative organic analysis that exploits the senses of smell, touch and sound. Journal of Chemical Education, 84(12), 1976-1978. https://doi.org/10.1021/ed084p1976