Colorimetry Outreach in Nepal

Nepal is a landlocked developing country in south Asia between China and India. It is home to 25 million people of various ethnicities including Gurkhas and Sherpas, and to the tallest mountain range in the world. The Bristol ChemLabS outreach was performed at the Loyola Secondary School in Kathmandu, in collaboration with the Department of Chemical Science and Engineering at Kathmandu University (KU). The outreach event was sponsored through the United Kingdom’s Natural Environmental Research Council grant NE/P013104/1 impact fund. A colorimeter experiment was selected based on the its applications of principles in physics, chemistry and mathematics. Also, the colorimeter instruments are portable, and the chemicals/glassware needed are readily available.  

Colorimeter equipment set taken to Nepal for the outreach activities.
Loyola Secondary School in Purano Baneshwor, Kathmandu.

Secondary school students from Grade 9, 10, and 12 participated in the outreach events held on two separate days in November 2018. An introductory presentation was given at the beginning of each day describing my research, the colorimeter experiment and how the two are related. Grade 10 students prepared standards of various concentrations of copper sulphate solutions using serial dilutions and measured absorbance of red light using the colorimeter. The standard solutions of copper sulphate and methylene blue had been prepared at KU in Dr. Bhim Kafle’s laboratory. Grade 9 students measured absorbance of a copper sulphate solution of “unknown” concentration. Both grades had been divided into 4 groups of about 5 students each. The students then collaborated to make calibration curve for the copper sulphate solution using a graph paper and then used it to find the “unknown” concentration. On a separate day, grade 12 students performed similar measurements of methylene blue solutions using the red, blue and green colours of the colorimeter. On both days the group with the best measurement for the unknown concentration were acknowledged at a concluding ceremony at the end of the day. Around 80 students, two school teachers, two faculty members and two master’s students from Kathmandu University participated in the outreach events. 

Grade 10 students performing colorimetry experiments with copper sulphate solution.
Beer’s law plot, performed by grade 12 students, as a part of the data analysis for the methylene blue experiments.
Grade 9 and 10 students working in a team for data analysis.

The outreach event was also covered by a local blog website linked here:

Published by rcpchem

Rabi Chhantyal-Pun is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Nottingham

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