Workshop in a Box

Giving pupils hands-on access to analytical instrumentation to solve engaging mysteries using curriculum relevant chemistry principles.

Workshop in a Box (“WiaB”) is a School of Chemistry developed and run initiative in which we send a kit of everything required to conduct pre-developed chemistry based workshops to secondary schools in Scotland for Higher and Advanced Higher chemistry pupils.

Pupils will get hands-on experience of real laboratory equipment and fantastic experience in applying chemistry to realistic problems faced by modern chemists. Moreover, the principals covered are relevant to the Higher and Advanced Higher Chemistry Course Specification as defined by the SQA.

Quotes from Teachers

“The kids seemed to really enjoy the hands on experience of analytical chemistry”

“…the students really enjoyed it. Will definitely book again in the future.”

Quotes from Pupils

“…it was very enjoyable and showed how chemistry is used in real life.”

“…it was a fun practical approach to what chemistry is like.”

In Your Classroom

Using a PowerPoint presentation and videos produced by the WiaB team, teachers take their class through a “Murder in the Lab” and/or “Historical Hoax” investigation wherein students use the supplied spectrometers and workshop equipment to solve a chemistry centric mystery using curriculum relevant chemistry principles.

The Kit

You will be provided everything you need to run a WiaB session. The kit includes:

  • an IR spectrometer
  • a UV-Vis spectrometer
  • workshop materials (chemicals, glassware, gloves, cuvettes etc.)
  • an instruction booklet (including teachers notes, student “lab notebooks” and a reference folder)
  • access to training videos produced by the WiaB team
  • lesson plans and PowerPoint presentations to guide and run the workshops
  • a laptop and mouse to run IR spectrometer software

Links to Curriculum

Murder in the Lab

The IR spectrometer is used to identify six chemicals (relevant to Advanced Higher curriculum unit “Organic Chemistry and Instrument Analysis”), and reinforce teaching of different functional groups (relevant to both the Higher [“Nature’s Chemistry”] and Advanced Higher curriculum), and the difficulty of distinguishing chemicals by eye. The UV-vis spectrometer is used to construct a calibration curve, and determine the amount of aspirin in a solution of unknown concentration, working on mathematical skills such as dilution calculations as well as the making of standard solutions. This also ties into the Advanced Higher curriculum units “Organic Chemistry and Instrument analysis” and “Researching Chemistry” and the Higher “Researching Chemistry” unit.

Historical Hoax

IR spectroscopy is used to identify whether the fibre of a historical cloth artefact is synthetic or natural by comparing the spectrum of the artefact fibres to known samples. This is relevant to the Higher Chemistry “Nature’s Chemistry” unit and the Advanced Higher unit “Organic Chemistry and Instrument Analysis” and gives students experience of identifying an unknown compound using known species, strengthening their problem solving skills.

Pupils perform a dye extraction of their cloth samples which gives students hand-on experience of analytical purification techniques which is relevant to the Advanced Higher and Higher “Researching Chemistry” units. The UV-vis spectrometer is used to determine the identity of this dye which again ties into “Organic Chemistry and Instrument Analysis” and “Researching Chemistry” from the Advanced Higher curriculum.

Request WiaB

Request WiaB in your classroom by emailing and state the following:

  • Your name
  • Name of your school
  • Whether a Higher or Advanced Higher class (or both)
  • Preferred Dates

Please bear in mind that requests for WiaB are always high so you may be required to wait a month or two until it can come to your classroom.

The project is made possible by the following sponsors: