This investigative case module was prepared as part of a BioQUEST faculty development workshop entitled Faculty Workshop: Implementing Investigative Cases and Technology in Biology and Chemistry at Center for Science Education in August 2004. The cases, resources, and implementation strategies were developed by participants for use with their own students. We invite you to adopt and adapt the following materials.

The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium is committed to the reform of undergraduate biology instruction through an emphasis on engaging students in realistic scientific practices. This approach is sometimes characterized as an inquiry driven approach and is captured in BioQUEST's three P's (problem-posing, problem-solving, and peer-persuasion). As part of this workshop groups of faculty were encouraged to initiate innovative curricular projects. We are sharing these works in progress in the hope that they will stimulate further exploration, collaboration and development. Please see the following links for additional information:

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Investigative Cases
The Case: Gas Law - Temperature and Pressure, Vapor Pressure of a Liquid

John and Jake go on a camping trip, but forget to bring enough cookware to cook their supper. They only brought one pot and some paper plates.

John has the brilliant idea of simply putting the cans of peas and beans they have into a pot of boiling water. The boiling water will heat up the cans and the contents and they will have a hot supper.

Jake is skeptical saying that the cans will explode under the increased pressure at the boiling temperature.

John is convinced he is right, that the cans will not explode, and further, that the pot will remain clean. So they can eat the beans out of the can and not have to clean the baked beans from the pot.

Jake remains skeptical saying that, "Yea, but when the cans explode we will have a real mess of beans and peas to clean up."

Who do you think is correct - John or Jake?

Case Author:
Dan Philen Emory University:Center for Science Education

Case Analysis

What you Know
Temperature at the boiling point

What you Need to Know:
Pressure at the boiling point
Properties of the boiling point with pressure.
Properties of the boiling point at constant volume.

Option: Include a know / need to know chart like the one below:

What do you know?
What do you need to know?

Learning Goals


Students will use an excercise on pressure and temperature variation to investigate the properties of a gas under "ideal gas law" conditions. Using only this information may lead to an incorrect interpretation of the results. Real gasses behave differently at the boiling, or conversely the condensation, point. This case should take the student past the usual treatment of ideal gases and let them investigate the properties of liquids and the vapor under constant volume and temperature.



Investigations and Activities

Students should complete the associated file, Exercise I, which is a study of the variation in pressure with temperature of an ideal gas.



1. Ideal Gas Law and the gas

2. Values of the universal gas constant.

3. Properties of liquids at the boilng point.

4. Factors that affect the boiling point.

Students will usually obtain additional references or resources
to help answer or explore their questions.

Special Data Items

Students will need to use MathCad which is available on the laboratory computers.

1. Exercise_1.pdf


Student Products

1. Students will write a report of Exercise I. The was the original first experiement of the laboratory.

2. They will go on from there and examine the properties of liquids and vapor at the boiling point under constant volume conditions.

3. They will write a short summary of what will happen to the can in the boiling water. This sould be a one page "Helpful Hints" type a paper targeted to the Boy Scouts, Sierra Club, 4H, Outward Bound organizations.

Assessment and Evaluation Plan

Assessment is based on the lab report for Exercise I, which is a formal laboratory report.

Further credit is given for correctly analyzing the can in the boiling water problem.



Course name:
331L Physical Chemistry Laboratory
Likely sequence in syllabus:
First exercise, initial part of the course
Time during term:
First week
Two Weeks
Pre-lab lecture
Students in course:
23 Junior Level (max 28)
Collaborative elements:
Additional notes:



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