Where are the …?

This past week I had the opportunity to become an organic laboratory student for two days. I attended the NSF-sponsored chemistry Collaborations Workshops & Community of Scholars (cCWCS) on teaching guided inquiry organic chemistry labs. During the first two days of the workshop participants performed three organic chemistry experiments in the U of MN student labs. Thoroughly enjoyable, I thought. I experienced the typical learning curve of finding out where everything is located in the room. Doing an experiment with twenty or-so other students is both frustrating and helpful. It is frustrating simply to not be able to move around the lab and procure chemicals and apparatus the way I do in my research lab. On the other hand, performing an experiment with others was an opportunity to learn how others might do a procedure in a more useful and efficient way than I thought of doing it. Other students can be informative of where to find the GC and how to label a vial correctly. Comparing and contrasting procedures and results can be interesting: especially when the students in the lab are doing different versions of the same experiment. To be honest, there are many experiments that I assign in my labs that I have never actually performed by myself. Am I missing out on something?

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One Comment

  1. Posted July 25, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    I think it is even more cool when a bunch of students have the same procedure, but when we are actually in the lab, we end up modifying the experiment anyway.

    Like, once a classmate’s hose couldn’t reach the drain from a reflux set up (because two people had to share one heat plate in that lab). He ended up attempting to link two hoses (that didn’t work very long). I took tape from the physics lab and taped my hose to the back wall of the hood at an angle that water would shoot into the drain.

    It wasn’t in the written procedure, but it was fun to try new ways to make an experiment work. =)


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