Monthly Archives: January 2008

The Third Week:

We did some real chemistry this week. Almost too real, if you know what I mean. If you don’t know what I mean, read on. Students did the published experimental procedures that they found and selected the first two weeks of lab period. Students soon discovered that 1) significant modifications are sometimes needed to adapt […]

Experimentation is a Scientist’s Highest Calling:

I consider myself an education innovator. From the very beginning, I have eschewed the use of textbook experiments in my labs. Instead, I write a handout for each lab that adapted a published procedure to the specifications that I felt best suited our facilities and our students. That way, each year I write suggestions in […]

Week 2: The Winners Please!

My comments in red. 1) “Oxidation of Cinnamyl Alcohol using Pyridinium Chlorochromate” Experiment #14 in Mohrig, J. R. “Modern projects and experiments in organic chemistry: Miniscale and standard taper microscale.” (2003) New York; Basingstoke: W.H. Freeman; Palgrave Macmillan. Looks good! Has a column chromatography step. Why cinnamyl alcohol? Does it matter? 2) “Vanillin Synthesis from […]

More with Less

Current pedagogical research also tells us that often “less is more” when it comes to content and learning: less content can engender more learning. A good discussion of this may be found in “What to do When you Stop Lecturing” by Kersey Black JCE 1993 70(2) 140-144. It is tough for a classically trained professor […]

Week 1

There are 24 students in my class. We divided into 7 groups. Five groups meet Monday afternoon, two groups meet on Wednesday afternoon. Each group received one second-semester organic chemistry topic: 1) Alcohols, 2) Diels-Alder, 3) Aldehydes/Ketones, 4) Esters, and 5) Carboxylic Acids. That’s the order of appearance of these topics in the semester. The […]

What’s going on in Chem Lab?

I’m glad you asked! This semester the organic chemistry class is dividing into groups of four students or less and planning a lab. They will have 4 weeks to find an appropirate experiment, order chemicals, try it out, and write up a lab handout for the experiment. Then the class will perform each other’s experiments. […]


What if Sophomore Organic Chemistry Lab was the best three hours of the week?! That is my quest. I want to take the three hours of contact time with my students in the lab and make it the best learning experience possible for them. I want them to be enthusiastic, engaged, inquisitive, and happy. I […]