A Mystery In the Laboratory

What do drugs smell like? How do we detect drug abuse? Why are drugs harmful? One hundred Form Four students and their mentors from the Leadership Institute on Narcotics joined us on an Anti-Drug STEM workshop at the Department of Chemistry, HKBU. 
Four interactive scent stations - Ketamine, Cocaine, Marijuana and Cannabis - were set up for curious noses. A student from Shau Kei Wan Secondary School commented, “The illicit drugs smelled like chemicals to me. I wondered who wants to inhale them on a frequent basis after all.” The nose training set up did help him and others to be drug smart around their peers.
In the second part of the activity, students make use of a clever drug-screening tool – Thin layer chromatography (TLC) - to figure out if the suspected chocolate beans are laced with illicit drugs. Each group was provided with two suspected chocolate beans and three standards. Students worked together like Sherlock Holmes and solved the cases in no time!