Instrumentation

All of us would agree that exposing students to routine organic chemistry analytic instruments is an important part of Organic Chemistry laboratory. However, instrument use by the students gets more problematic as student population grows. 1a) Ideally, students would run their own analysis (with appropriate supervision) as part of the experiment just like they do a TLC or melting point. There is scarcely enough time for analyses that take more than 5 minutes apiece with 18 students (18×5=90 minutes). 1b) Students could come in during times outside of lab for analyses. This is doable with smaller numbers of students, but it seems that some supervision is desirable. 1c) There is also the “remote operation” approach that may be similar to the previous approach. 2) The instructor may do the analysis with the student(s) in attendance individually or as a group. This way, the analyses are done efficiently, and the students are at least exposed to the technique. We hope that in upper level classes students will be given opportunities to perform these analyses themselves. 3a) Student samples are taken and run on the instrument without the student being present. The resulting individual data is then given to the students. 3b) A sampling of student prepared products is done and the resulting data is generally distributed to students to analyze.

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One Comment

  1. Posted November 22, 2008 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    At Southampton when I was teaching labs there was an IR machine near the lab that the students used themselves (created havoc towards the end of the session and I think our lab practicals run for longer than yours do). The second years are introduced to MS and NMR, firstly by the provision of model spectra, later they are taken down to see the instruments, but after that they prepare the samples which are taken off and run without them present. Most of the instrumentation is very automated (pop in sample, register it, provide basic information, leave to run) so they are not missing too much and get to see “real” data which is good. Also makes it slightly harder for them to simply copy each other’s assignments. I’m not sure though, whether this is changing now as undergraduate numbers are rising significantly making it harder.


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