01 Chem Rsrch

Chemistry Research 

This event is limited to the first 15 entries

Objective & Background

What do the following substances have in common: blood, mayonnaise, marshmallows, cough syrup, and fog? These are all example of colloids. Colloids, which occur when one substance is dispersed into another, come in many forms. Some of these include foams, aerosols, emulsions and sols. Unlike homogenous solutions like sodium chloride dissolved in water, many colloids can be formed only by vigorous mixing; for example, whipped cream forms only when the ingredients are vigorously mixed. Colloids, unlike solutions, can often be separated, or coagulated, by physical methods such as filtration or centrifugation; chemical methods of coagulation can also be used. The objective of this project is to explore different types of colloids then devise and conduct experiments that can lead to a better understanding of colloids; the end result can be construed as an argument for including more about colloids in the chemistry curriculum.


Part I    Conduct background research about colloids and how they are formed:
  • Research different types of colloids and construct a table that includes common examples of each and highlights differences between the different types.
  • Discuss how colloids differ from solutions.
  • Discuss the energetics of the formation of different types of colloids. Distinguish between the types of energy, thermal or mechanical, that is ideal for formation of specific types of colloids.
  • Discuss the role of emulsifiers in formation of certain types of colloids. Provide examples of some common emulsifiers. 

Part 2   Conduct original research on factor(s) that effects either colloid formation or colloid coagulation. This may include one or more of the following suggestions, or one of your own:

  • Examine colloid formation as a function of amounts
  • Systematic study on the efficacy of different types or amounts of emulsifiers
  • Systematic study of chemicals that cause coagulation of certain types of emulsion
  • Systematic study of methods to separate colloids. 

Safety Note
All laboratory work should follow appropriate safety instructions and be supervised by instructor or coach.

Part 3  Report student understandings/findings. 

   1. A research paper is written that includes information addressing the following:

  • Demonstrates understandings and information from Part 1.
  • A table which highlights the different types of colloids and examples. 
  • Research question and abstract of the scientific investigation performed in Part 2.  Controlled variables and experiment control(s) should be addressed.
  • Experimental methods used in Part 2 should be included as an Appendix to the research paper.  (Note: No data is required as part of the submittal for this year's research paper - Students must present their data the day of the NJCO event in support of their conclusions)
  • All reference material should be properly cited and citations should have credibility

2. A 6 minute presentation with descriptive poster (or Powerpoint, if you choose) will occur on the morning of the Chemistry Olympics. (6 minutes max: 3 minute prepared presentation + 3 minutes Q&A) - This presentation should focus solely on the scientific investigation performed in Part 2 and should highlight the students' understanding of colloid chemistry.   Students must elaborate on how they properly employed the scientific method to answer their research question(s).  Specific laboratory data collected should be presented to the judges in a graphical manner.  Conclusions from experimentation should be clearly supported by the data provided.   Students are encouraged to include statistical error analysis of data.  


  • This events must be completed by a team of 2 or 3 students.
  • All reference material should be properly cited and citations should have credibility. 
  • All sources of information must be identified clearly (written sources as well as a list of people who provided assistance)
  • All research papers must be built upon information acquired from a minimum of 3 PRIMARY SOURCES.  Although Internet sources may also be utilized in addition to the primary sources judges will be looking at how students select and use information gathered from primary sources.  Examples of primary sources include articles found in peer-reviewed professional journals such as Nature, Science and Journal of Chemical Education.  Peer-reviewed professional journals are available at post-secondary academic libraries.  Peer-reviewed journals that are accessed online are acceptable.  Magazines such as Discover, Science News, Popular Science and Scientific American, although informatory are not peer-reviewed professional journals. You are required to submit photocopies of the first three pages of each primary source used in your paper.
  • Your presentation should highlight how you followed the scientific method to come up with a hypothesis, proposed experiments and reached a conclusion. Any conclusions you form must be based upon your own experimental data from work you conduct at your own high school facility.  Commercial assistance is not permitted.
  • Your written report may not exceed five pages - 12 pt., 1.5 spaced plus a 2-Part Appendix (see below) 
  • Include a cover page that indicates the title of the paper, authors, school, team A or B (if applicable)
  • The Appendix must include: 

    Part 1: up to 4 pages of diagrams, charts, etc.

    • abstract of experiment
    • additional experimental information, if needed (outline format acceptable)
    • a complete listing of references used in your research (written sources as well as a list of people who provided assistance)

    Part 2 (minimum 3 pages)

    • Photocopies of the first page of the primary source articles used in your research -- excluding the Abstract.
    • Abstract in lieu of article are not acceptable.
  • Prepare a Power Point presentation that summarizes your research.  Presentations must reflect the information and data presented in the written report.  Schools must supply their own computers, LCD projectors and/or overhead projectors.  A screen will be made available.
  • The written paper and Power Point must adhere to the ACS Style Guide.
  • Be prepared to make a 6-minute oral presentation, one-on-one with the judges (6 minutes max: 3 minute presentation + 3 minutes Q&A).
  • Four (4) copies of the complete report (plus DVD/CD, if applicable) and spreadsheet must be received by the Director of the NJCO by the deadline indicated in the Competition Guidelines. The reports and spreadsheet must be clearly labeled with the school name.  If applicable, also indicate, team A or B.
  • In addition to submitting 4 paper copies of each research paper, teams are also required to submit their papers to turnitin.com for review.  All submissions must be in the form of a single file in MS-Word format.
  • Bring one extra copy of your report the day of the event.
  • A team may be disqualified, if they are not ready to start at the scheduled time of their presentation.

Judging Criteria

  • Written report 35% total
    • Accuracy of technical component(s), 
    • Depth of chemistry background.
    • Well thought out hypothesis
    • Quality of references.
    • Clarity of writing and adherence to instruction

  • Experiment and Results 35% total
    • Evidence of good scientific method
    • Development of Procedure
    • Clear experimental procedures
    • Graphical analysis of results.
  • Presentation, 30% total
    • Technical knowledge of subject
    • Presentation

Team Identification

It is crucial to identify all submissions with the information below, to prevent mix-up.  In particular, schools with multiple teams must clearly differentiate between team A and B

Each submission (research reports, CDs, DVD, reports, etc) must include the following 4 items:

  1. Name of school
  2. Team A or B designation, if applicable
  3. Names of students (clearly printed legibly)
  4. Name of coach

Event designed by Dr. Marco Pagnotta Dwight-Englewood School