The Organic Chem Lab Survival Manual

“The Organic Chem Lab Survival Manual, A Student’s Guide to Techniques” by James W. Zubrick is now in its 7th edition (2007). Zubrick authors a 368 page paper back that covers most all of the basic laboratory techniques students learn in Sophomore Organic Chemistry. I have used it as a supplemental text in Organic Chemistry for years. Usually, I put a few copies on reserve in the library so students can take a look at it. If students like it enough, they can buy a copy for themselves. Most of the subjects covered are very basic: how to work a separatory funnel, how to perform a recrystallization, and how to pipette a liquid. Zubrick offers a wealth of practical information on all these basic techniques. I think it is a great resource for a student who wants to come into lab prepared to perform a technique Zubrick correctly the first time. Let’s face it, a lot of lab techniques are learned by trial and error. And that is not necessarily a bad thing, especially for kinetic learners. Those who appreciate other modes of learning can avail themselves of published lab manuals, videos, and listening to the professor’s prelab lecture. Let me offer a note about Zubrick’s distinctive style. I think his style of writing mildly humorous, but some may be put off by his sarcastic comments. My favorite quote (from the distillation chapter): “It is important that the tubing connector remain open to the air; otherwise, the entire apparatus will, quite simply, explode.”

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