Using laboratory chemicals to imitate illicit drugs in a forensic chemistry activity.

Author(s): 

Hasan, Shawn; Bromfield-Lee, Deborah; Oliver-Hoyo, Maria T.; Cintron-Maldonado, Jose A.

Journal: 

Journal of Chemical Education

Year: 

2008

Volume: 

85(6)

Pages: 

813-816

Abstract: 

The article presents a new inquiry-based activity that recreates the work of a forensic chemist. This forensic activity utilizes two common forensic presumptive techniques to justify further confirmatory testing on mock illicit samples. Throughout the activity, students learn about the non-specific nature of chem. spot tests (CSTs), the strengths of combining CSTs and thin layer chromatog. (TLC) techniques for forensic screening, the challenges in forensic chem. when analyzing samples of unknown identity, and the relevance of false positives in a forensic testing scheme. This hands-on forensic activity provides educators with an opportunity to expose students to the techniques used by the modern forensic chemist for drug screening. Students who conducted this expt. were able to perform the procedures and attain the learning goals of the expt.