As the 18th century British chemist Sir Humphry Davy put it, “nothing tends so much to the advancement of knowledge as the application of a new instrument.” True for infrared imaging, especially when it is used as an educational tool to advance students' science knowledge with first-hand experiences.
Erica K. Jacobsen, an Associate Editor of the Journal of Chemical Education (JCE), had an interesting idea about where to get funds to buy an infrared camera. Interested in my work recently published on JCE online, she wrote in the editorial of the July 2011 issue of Journal of Chemical Education: "Xie's article Visualizing Chemistry with Infrared Imaging describes the use of infrared (IR) cameras for inquiry-based experiments. The cost is still somewhat prohibitive ($1,500-2,500), but Xie states that the price continues to drop. He provides several experiments that allow students to 'see' phenomena such as evaporation, condensation, and latent heat, heat of solution, and vapor pressure lowering. The IR images of the experiments are captivating, intriguing, and thought provoking. What if a summer science course were to offer an experience with IR cameras and such real-world processes as illustrated in this article? Or, perhaps a high school educator might find this a useful focus for an application for one of next year's ACS-Hach High School Chemistry Grants."
True to form, infrared cameras are becoming more affordable. For $1,195, you can now buy a brand new FLIR I3 (60x60 pixels) from Amazon. If you want to try one and happen to be in Massachusetts, rent one from Home Depot! The price of an I3 may fall below $1,000 next year, or an educational discount will make it do so.
The ACS-Hach High School Chemistry Grants provide up to $1,500 for teachers "seeking funds to support ideas that transform classroom learning, foster student development, and reveal the wonders of chemistry." Each year, ACS awards a few dozens grants. If you are interested in applying for one based on the infrared imaging idea and need some help, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I will showcase this technology at the 2011 Gordon Conference for Chemistry Education and the 2011 Gordon Conference for Visualization in Science and Education. Hope to see you there!
Disclaimer: Although I was probably responsible for the purchase of 10+ IR cameras through my active presentations, publications, and blog articles, I am an independent researcher who has no link to FLIR, FLUKE, or any other IR camera manufacturers.