On the Cutting Edge - Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
Teaching Hydrogeology, Soils, and Low-T Geochemistry in the 21st Century
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Cutting Edge > Hydrogeology > Hydrogeology, Soils, Geochemistry 2013 > Teaching Activities > Capabilities and Limitations of Geochemical Instruments

Capabilities and Limitations of Geochemical Instruments

Carmen Nezat, Eastern Washington University

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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.


This page first made public: Jun 6, 2013

Summary

The purpose of this exercise is to understand the capability and limitations of several instruments (AA, ICP-OES, ICP-MS) used for geochemical analysis. Students compare and contrast the cost, detection limits, etc. of these instruments.

Context

Audience

This assignment has been used in an upper-level environmental geochemistry course.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

unit conversions, understanding limit of detection

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity can be a stand alone exercise, or given at the beginning of the quarter before students start analyzing samples in the lab.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

limit of detection
EPA drinking water standards
types of analytical equipment used in geochemical analysis

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

analysis of information
evaluation of analytical equipment

Other skills goals for this activity

writing
unit conversions

Description and Teaching Materials

Items needed for this activity:
Student assignment (file)
"Guide to Inorganic Analysis" by Perkin Elmer (file)

Student Assignment (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 23kB Apr29 13)



Teaching Notes and Tips

Students have difficulty understanding that the detection limit for a particular element should be lower (and not higher) than the actual or expected concentration in the sample.

Assessment

Each question is worth a set number of points (which are written next to each question on the assignment). Total number of points for this assignment is 100.

References and Resources

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