Monthly Archives: February 2009

Impurity or Minor Component?

This past week we performed the hydrodistillation (steam distillation) of spices to produce essential oils. This year, students chose between Anise, Fennel, Cloves, Cumin, and Oregano for their spices. This was the first time we used Fennel and Oregano. The yield of Clove oil still surpasses the other spices but analysis by TLC, UV, and […]


Problematizing Reactions to Create Guided Inquiry Labs

A simple way to develop a guided-inquiry type laboratory experiment from a “classic” laboratory experiment is to create some question that the experimental procedure will help to answer. I tried this with the classic Diels-Alder anthracene + maleic anhydride this semester. Instead of coming out and telling the students that the product would be 9,10-dihydro-9,10-ethanoanthracene-11,12-dicarboxylic […]


Quantifying Observation

As I went through the lab reports that students have prepared for the solubility challenge, I was impressed by the huge task we scientists have of translating observations into meaningful numbers. I have done a solubility laboratory during first semester organic where students classify the solubility of a compound in a certain solvent at a […]