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Using spectroscopy to determine the concentration of blue dye in sports drinks

What is analytical chemistry? Why is it important, and how do we use it in our every day lives? These are the questions the Year 12 students have been answering this term in the Monitoring the Environment unit for SACE Stage 2 Chemistry. The unit includes topics such as climate change, photochemical smog, volumetric analysis, chromatography and spectroscopy.

The unit culminated with the students using the knowledge and skills obtained this term to determine the concentration of brilliant blue dye in a range of sports drinks. By measuring the light absorbed of dye samples within in a range of known concentrations, the students were able to determine the unknown concentration of any dye sample within that range. By calculating the concentration of dye in the drinks, the students could determine whether they were within a safe range for human consumption.

So, will your daily blue Powerade® kill you? You’ll have to ask the Year 12 Chemistry students to find out. One thing is for sure, the students now have a deeper appreciation for our School colours.

Hamish McTernan
Teacher – Science Faculty / Mentor – Year 7