An At-Home Compatible Calorimetry Experiment Using Drug Store Clinical Thermometers

10 October 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Calorimetry is one of the best experiments to do in an introductory level chemistry laboratory course as it has high accuracy and requires relatively inexpensive materials. However, like other traditional general chemistry lab experiments, it is not easily converted with at-home or remote experimentation. The traditional experiment requires thermometers for a range of at least 20 to 110° Celsius, precise balances, and either Bunsen burners or hot plates for heating. Here we present a modified calorimetry experiment designed with an accessibility-first approach during remote lab instruction in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The approach uses drug store thermometers, hanger balances, and microwaves to determine the specific heat of metals. A majority of the reported specific heat values fell within a 40-60% range from the literature value, compared to 16-94% when using traditional methods. This presents an opportunity for our accessibility designed at-home lab to be used as a prelab or make up assignment as part of an inclusive lab course.


Laboratory Instruction
First-Year Undergraduate


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