Guest Article by Dominik Margraf
Even though my high-school years date back more than a decade now, I still remember phrases from my chemistry teachers like: “Buying this kind of equipment is way too expensive. You just have to imagine that experiment!”. Nowadays, I can only suggest to them reading the Journal of Chemical Education (also as a grad student this is great fun during lunch breaks; some articles are absolutely inspiring). Per-Odd Egen (an odd name…) from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology published in an edited column named the cost-effective teacher how to construct “A simple Hydrogen Electrode” (J. Chem. Ed., 86, 352, 2009). Maybe it’s just me, but I believe this to be utterly fascinating. Here we go:
Step 1: To make the hydrogen electrode, insert a Pt wire into the teflon pipet and fill completely with 1.0 M HCl, then block the tip with agar-salt gel. (Figure taken from publication)
Step 2: By connecting the battery for one second, hydrogen gas develops on the surface of the platinum wire (see inset). When the battery is disconnected again, the intended Cu/Cu2+ potential (blue solution) value is measured. (Figure taken from publication)
This idea is as simple as brilliant. Some teachers really do put a lot of thought in educating their students. No wonder Scandinavian countries are the winner of the European PISA study ranking nations by their educational standards! Let’s hope to see many of these kind of teachers at Nuremberg to share their ideas. Where were those teachers when I needed them the most?