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SS011 Laboratory Skills for Science

This short residential school provides the opportunity for laboratory-based practical work, helping to build confidence in practical science techniques including recording, reporting and interpreting data.

Information for 2019

Venue: The Open University Campus, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA
Residential school dates:
Wednesday 10th July 2019 to Friday 12th July 2019
Wednesday 17th July 2019 to Friday 19th July 2019
Tuition Fee: £190
Travel and accommodation
You will need to book and pay for your own accommodation, travel and food associated with the residential school. The tuition fee for the course and these additional costs cannot be covered with a part time tuition fee loan.

Kents Hill Park. (a short walk from the Open University campus) offers a discounted rate for OU students on SS011.

  • 2 nights Bed and Breakfast £158*
  • 2 nights Bed, Breakfast and Evening meal £188*

*Price correct as of December 2018, subject to change

IMPORTANT You will need to book with Kents Hill Park direct (Tel no 01908 358040 and quote OU Laboratory Skills for Science, ref:  128417 for 10th July and ref: 128418 for 17th July to ensure you get the discounted rate). A limited number of rooms have been held. Card details will need to be given when making your reservation in order to secure the accommodation, payment will be due on arrival. You can cancel your booking up to 2pm on the day of arrival.

If you book alternative accommodation please be aware of transportation requirements as the campus is several miles from the centre of Milton Keynes.

Experiments and techniques covered in the practical sessions 

There are two activities at the residential school.  Activity A: the determination of water hardness and radioactivity; Activity B: analysing our environment.

In Activity A you will:

  • Determine the hardness of water samples by carrying out titrations and hence, calculate the ‘hardness’ of a water sample. Techniques used: preparing solutions, pipetting and titrations.
  • Use a Geiger counter to measure background count, the radioactivity of various radioactive sources and the absorption of radiation by various sources. Techniques used: handling radioactive sources, recording data, plotting graphs and interpreting results.

In Activity B you will:

  • Use qualitative and quantitative methods to determine various metal ions in a water sample. Techniques used: preparing solutions, colorimetry, observing and recording changes in chemical reactions, plotting calibration graphs and interpreting results.
  • Qualitatively identify various metals in solids, using flame tests and a hand-held spectroscope. Techniques used: flame tests using Bunsen burners, interpreting line spectra, recording observations and interpreting results.
  • Determine the angles of diffraction of spectral lines from a sodium source and identify unknown metals and other elements using a grating spectrometer.  Techniques used: spectrometry, diffraction, numerical calculations, recording and interpreting data. 

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