6 Jul 2015

Kinesthetic Learning: Cyclic Voltammetry Mechanisms

In-Class Activity

Submitted by Chip Nataro, Lafayette College
Course Level: 

This activity was created as part of a primer on cyclic voltammetry for the 2015 TUES workshop. The activity is designed to have one person represent the potential and several other people represent the molecules in solution. By simply scanning (walking through the line of people) and shaking hands, several simple mechanisms can be illustrated. The use of a joy buzzer with the first hand shake is highly encouraged, but not at all necessary. It adds a bit of levity to a serious topic and the author highly encourages using the joy buzzer on a "volunteer" that promised muffins years ago and has yet to deliver on said promise.

File CVMech.pptx142.95 KB
Image icon Joy buzzer77.03 KB
Learning Goals: 
  • A student will visualize simple cyclic voltammetry mechanisms with a kinesthetic experience.
  • A student will explain possible outcomes for single molecules upon oxidation or reduction. 


Equipment needs: 


A joy buzzer (picture included in case you are unfamiliar with this object) is optional, but certainly fun.

Related activities: 
Implementation Notes: 

The idea behind this LO is for students to be able to visualize some of the possible outcomes of a species upon oxidation or reduction. It requires the instructor to select several students (4-6) to participate. The instructor and the students huddle before each demonstration so the students know how to behave. The slides that accompany this LO are used to show what the actual CVs look like after performing the visualization with student volunteers. The following instructions are also summarized in the notes on the slides.

In the case of a reversible system, the instructor (potential) walks past a line of students shaking their hands. The students turn 180 degrees upon shaking hands. When the instructor reaches the end of the line, they turn around and repeat the process in the opposite direction. In an irreversible system, after shaking hands, the students can do any number of thing to represent a chemical reaction taking place, the products of which are electrochemically silent. This could be putting their hands behind their backs, linking hands with another student, or anything else. Upon sweeping back through the line, the instructor discovers no hands to shake. In the third example, the instructor goes through the line very slowly the first time. This gives some of the students time to do something (grasp each other's hands for example) after having getting a hand shake. Not all of the students should undergo this reaction, so some of the students are available to shake hands upon reversing the scan. The second time, the instructor should sweep through fairly quickly so that the students don't have time to form another product. I encouraged my participants to make dramatic movements when I did the slow scan. In the final mechanism, upon shaking hands students were instructed to turn around and lift their hands up for a high five. This showed that an electroactive species was present, but it was somehow different from the starting material.

The joy buzzer is completely optional, but it was great fun. The person I did it to was not at all expecting it. It is electrochemistry after all, there should be a little shock.

Time Required: 
5-10 minutes
Evaluation Methods: 

I have only used this at the workshop. I do not anticipate teaching this material in class, so I doubt I will get any evaluation data. Perhaps the participants will comment on the effectiveness of this LO.

Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence

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