IB newsletter

Fieldtrip to Tallinn University of Technology (TTÜ)


On the 15th of November a fieldtrip took place to Tallinn University of Technology, Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry, Chair of Inorganic Chemistry.
The excursion was attended by 13 students studying Chemistry in preIB, DP1 and DP2.

During the first part of the visit the Chairman and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Science, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry Toomas Tamm gave a presentation.
He gave a concise and informative overview of chemistry Bachelor and Master courses and subjects. He also dedicated some time to academic honesty aspects and to the details of how the University deals with cheating. The professor also introduced his modern teaching methods which allow a student attend lectures at the same time in the class or at home. Toomas Tamm convincingly explained the importance of studying chemistry. Chemistry is called the central science, as chemical principles underpin both the physical environment in which we live and all biological systems. Chemistry deals with the very stuff of matter and affects all our lives. The results of the use of chemistry brings great benefits to individuals, societies and contributes much to the quality of life.

The second part of the fieldtrip continued in laboratory. The lecturer Kaie Laane presented chemistry theatre – effective and fun chemistry experiments:
1) copper coin in the concentrated nitric acid gave the brown coloured gas NO2 and so our students had opportunity to see first-hand the gas, which is the main cause of environmental pollution and acid rain
2) reaction of sucrose with concentrated sulfuric acid startled and surprised our students when changing the white colour to the deep black and increasing the volume several times
3) the experiment with hydrogen peroxide, Fairy and potassium iodide produced effective and very funny “elephants toothpaste”. Go to the link and view the attached video

The last part of the fieldtrip was most serious. Our students had opportunity to work in the lab independently according the guide. PreIB students discovered new colourful methods for confirmatory tests of cathions. DP1 and DP 2 students titrated the solutions. Using the last mentioned method, they determined the acidity of unknown solutions and hardness of tap water. DP2 students worked additionally with redoxreactions, which covers their IB Chemistry core program.

Today visits to TTÜ have become a tradition. Students enjoy them and are always waiting to return.  We are grateful for the opportunity co-operating with TTÜ.

Below are some short feedback statements from our students after the trip:

Anton: “We used and learnt how to use buret, pipet, pipet bulb, dropper glass funnel, beaker, Erlenmeyer flask, wash bottle and stand with clamp…….. I was surprised that there were so many substances ready to use and so much room and places where you could conduct experiments and I liked that everything was prepared and set up, so when we arrived we could start straight away.
Moreover, we got presentations about the university and chemistry course they have there. ……This visit made me think that chemistry is actually much more interesting than it appears to be.”

Kristjan: “During our visit to TTÜ we learned a lot. We got to know about TTÜ itself and … I also learned a lot about lab safety and how to conduct myself in a dangerous environment.
The most interesting thing for me personally was the elephants tooth paste, that was really a
wonderful experiment and also it smelled like soap. I really want to go back there and try more experiments with different chemicals and if possible with dry ice as well.
I did the tests on my own and I managed to do all of them … otherwise my favourite test
was  the first one because I got to learn how to create golden glitter.”

Henri: “My first impression was surprising, on how the lab looked like and how many chemicals there were. First the guide reminded us about safety in the lab. Then she showed us a few experiments and …. In my opinion, we should visit more places like that, because it makes me want to learn more about it. Overall the day was fun.” “This is the result of the experiments we had to do.”

Boleslav: “Professor Toomas Tamm gave us an interesting lecture about the university. TTÜ – is the largest and oldest Technical College in Estonia: 8 faculties, 4 colleges and 14 thousand students. We were interested in specialties: the integrated engineering and genetic engineering.”

We were surprised by the fact that professors ask for the opinion of students:

  • about installation of cameras, -through verification of examination-papers
  • whether it is possible to take papers with formulas on exam

“Mr. Tamm told us that when he gave lectures he recorded them and put them on the TTU website. Students of TTU can independently study the recordings of the lectures. He also told us that in the next year there will be a lot of changes at University: the reorganization of faculties, the development of programs in foreign languages.”

During this lecture Zoya asked a question: ” Did you cheat when you studied in university?”

“It was very interesting for me to experiment, to observe chemical reactions and interactions of reactants, solutions and substances. The main thing I remember is that it is necessary to follow the rules in chemical experiments. “

Edvard: „“…. In the beginning we had a great lecture by a professor about studying in TTÜ. This was followed by a good discussion about ethics and about cheating and exams. Then we went to lab and started doing our lab experiments. The first one was about water hardness, we used titration method for that … The whole experiment wasn’t hard for me, because I have done it before and I love working in a lab. …I am looking forward for my IA at TTÜ lab in January, which will no doubt be more fun. …“

Anna Kikkas
Chemistry teacher