Chemistry and biochemistry are experimental sciences and experience working in lab is an essential part of most courses in our department. The particular focus of the Chem 260 lab is learning how to investigate the thermodynamic, equilibrium, and kinetic properties of chemical reactions. During the semester you will learn how to make quantitative measurements with appropriate precision and accuracy, learn how to use several routine quantitative methods of analysis, learn how to design and carry out experiments, learn how to evaluate critically experimental data, learn how to report responsibly the results of an experiment, and learn how to work as part of a small research team.
The schedule below outlines the work we will complete during our lab sessions and due dates for written reports. Links are provided here to experiments; links to other materials that you will find useful when working in lab and when preparing written reports are provided in the sections that follow.
Although a chemistry or biochemistry laboratory is equipped with chemicals and equipment that can result in injuries, there is no reason that a laboratory inherently is less safe than other environments where one is exposed to caustic and/or reactive materials, sharp objects, and hot items. You can work safely in a laboratory if you pay attention to how you dress for lab, how you prepare for lab, how you work while in the lab, and how you clean up at the end of lab. Although all the safety items in this document are important, those in bold merit your particular attention.
Working with other students as part of a small research team is a rewarding experience. There is an abundance of evidence in the educational literature that the process of discussing an experiment with peers leads to a deeper understanding of the specific experiment and the broader science that underlies the experiment. In addition, working as part of a group is a valuable skill that is of increasing importance to employers, to graduate programs, and to health professionals. Indeed, you will spend most of your professional career working closely with others. An effective group, however, does not happen without some effort on your part. The tips in this handout will help you get more out of this experience.
As you work in the laboratory, you will make a variety of different measurements. A procedure, for example, may instruct you to obtain a portion of a solid reagent, to dissolve that reagent in a suitable solvent, to bring the solute and solvent to a known volume, and to measure the solution's absorbance at a wavelength of 450 nm. Although these instructions seem straightforward, each step requires that you make a carefully considered decision about how accurately and how precisely you need to measure a mass or a volume, and requires an understanding of the instrumentation used to measure absorbance. The essays here provide some thoughts on the following topics:
Although the work you do in lab is important, it is but one step in the larger process of working as a scientist. Equally important is the planning that goes into identifying a research project and designing suitable experiments, and, after completing your work in lab, the analysis of your data and its presentation to others. The essays here provide some thoughts on the following topics:
Gathered here are guides to working with Vernier's data collection interface (LabQuest 2) and to the software used to gather and display data (LoggerPro).