Instrument for Measuring Absorbance 

I’ve been thinking about how to teach my kids quantifiable science.  I got a cheap science kit off Amazon for the kids a while back. The kit uses color changes to measure reactions using plant-based powders, but this is a binary outcome. It works or doesn’t. This is great for the first one or two experiments, but doesn’t really teach enduring principles, such as taking measurements, graphing, and ultimately forming to a conclusion.

The general idea behind measuring absorbance is to shine a light through a corvette (or test tube) and measure the amount of light that makes it through. Fancier instruments will use multiple wavelengths or an entire spectrum.

To keep this simple, I used a 3D printer to fabricate a holder for the test tubes from the science kit. A 635nm red LED shines in one side, and a BPW35 detects the light. The next step is to mount this on a small plastic project box with a cheap two line LCD display. A button (or two) will control taking measurements (and some kind of integrated calibration cycle).

This instrument will enable a simple number to be presented to the user. My kids can then perform reactions or dilute samples, and graph those numbers (math yeah).

absorbance instrument img_0880.jpg