This context-based case study is laboratory-based and focuses on the synthesis, characterisation and evaluation of up to nine manganese(III) salen complexes that are employed as catalysts in the oxidation of alkenes. The approach used in this case study ensures learners work collaboratively and allows for the development of transferrable employability skills.
The teaching methodology used is context/problem based learning, which aims to increase student engagement by using real world contexts. Learners work collaboratively and are presented with problem scenarios that are ill-defined and have a number of satisfactory solutions. This approach allows for the development of valuable transferable skills such as communication, team working and problem solving.
Students adopt the role of chemists employed in a campus company that has been contracted to carry out some work for a large pharmaceutical company. Their brief is outlined in a letter from the company in which it is requested that green chemistry principles be implemented to their full potential in the reactions being investigated. The students are required to work as part of a team to: (1) Prepare and characterise a Mn-salen complex using a two step synthesis; (2) Evaluate the performance of the catalyst in a reference reaction (epoxidation of stilbene); (3) Assess the relative costs and the environmental impact of this process and of alternative procedures with reference to suitable metrics; (4) Plan experimental procedures; (5) Compile a professional report; (6) Present their findings and recommendations to peers and tutors; (7) Manage the project using a wiki.
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