Special Engineering Course Participants Develop Equipment for Chemistry Laboratory

The first project, “Reagent Accounting System at the SESC NSU Chemistry Laboratory”, was developed by Daria Gorina, Marina Epifantseva, Sergey Kulakov, and Daria Ulyanitskaya. The project solves an important problem, lack of information on the exact amount of remaining reagents in the Laboratory. This information is necessary for laboratory assistants to make timely new purchases of reagents.

The students at SESC NSU developed a system with a scale, scanner, data transmission board, and a computer. For identification, each reagent is assigned an individual number and a barcode. The system will identify the reagent, weigh it, and transfer the data received to a computer for further processing. All data will be stored in the database and updated as new information becomes available when reagents are used in the Laboratory. After using a reagent, the laboratory assistant  places it on the scales and reads the barcode. Next, the program will find the required reagent in the database and add the new information. If the reagent is low, the user will be notified. 

The second project, the creation of an inexpensive device for measuring the density of liquids, was developed by Anastasia Pimenova and Veronika Shevtsova. In laboratories today, the density of liquids is measured using hydrometers. These devices require a relatively large amount of the test liquid to obtain a result. Pimenova and Shevtsova decided to create a more economical device that uses a minimal amount of liquid. 

The principle for the device’s operation is based on the law of Archimedes - the weight of a body immersed in a liquid depends on the density of this liquid. The weight sensor is fixed on the base at a certain height and a lead cylindrical weight is attached to it. The container with the test liquid is raised on a lifting table so the cylinder is completely immersed in the liquid. The device records the change in weight. A program calculates the density according to an algorithm and displays the result on the screen. An important characteristic of the equipment is measurement accuracy. The use of a precision sensor and high-density weight material helped achieve this.

Both projects have now reached the prototype stage and need to be finalized so they can be used in the Laboratory. 

Alexey Medvedev, the Course teacher discussed the projects,

Working on projects it is very important not to withdraw into oneself but to exchange ideas. These projects are our attempt to establish interlaboratory cooperation with the SESC NSU Chemistry Department. We realized that they have problems we can solve. The Chemistry Department formulated technical tasks for us that became the projects. The primary challenge was that in the classroom it was necessary to combine two important processes. The first one was training because school children attending an special engineering course are far from being able to do everything. The second process was implementing the project. This first involved formulating the goal and objectives for the project, assigning who would do what, and then for each objective I gave simplified tasks that took into account the level of the student’s preparation. Completing the smaller tasks, the student learned the necessary skills to complete the overall task.

Early SESC students explained «floating» disk behavior, discovered new genetic code for corn, and studied the effect of stress.