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Chemistry LibreTexts

Introductory Details and Lab Format

This is primarily an experimental chemistry course. Nine experiments are specifically designed for those who want to acquire basic knowledge and experimental stills in analytical and physical chemistry. Through this course, students will learn how to properly acquire and analyze data, and how to write standard lab reports. Lecture topics include: Data and error analysis, analog electronics, advanced solution equilibria, potentiometric analysis, chromatographic separations, optical (UV-Visible) spectroscopy, and lasers.

Laboratory Notebook

All data should be entered directly in a bound notebook. Do not use loose-leaf binders or water-soluble ink. To make corrections, draw a line through the text, DO NOT ERASE. For each experiment, you should enter the following into your laboratory notebook:

  • Date
  • Title: The report should have a title that concisely describes the experiment.
  • Purpose: This is a concise statement that describes the goals of the experiment and the methods employed. Any pertinent chemical reactions should also be described here.
  • Procedure: A brief and concise outline of each step of the experiment should be included. There is no need to rewrite the manual in your notebook. If you are using a published procedure, you should also cite the literature or laboratory manual.
  • Data and Observations: Report all measurements and observations that are pertinent to the experiment. Be sure to note any problems or unexpected occurrences. It is important that this section be as neat and as organized as possible. The use of tables will often help in this regard. All data must be recorded directly into the notebook at the time it is collected. It is also important to organize and prepare the format of the Data section before coming to the laboratory so that you will only need to neatly record your data and observations during the experiment. Each section should be clearly marked with a proper heading. Your notebook should be organized and written in such a manner that another chemist could read it and repeat the experiment in precisely the way in which you did it.

Laboratory Report

The laboratory report should be written in the style of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. All reports must be typed. The length of the report, excluding the Appendix, should be between 5 and 10 pages (1.5 spacing). Pay close attention to grammar. You must use a word processor to write your report. All graphs should be plotted using either Excel or other graphing programs. The laboratory report must contain the following parts:

  • Title: You may use the same title as in your notebook.
  • Author: Write your name first and the name of your lab partner(s). Place an asterisk immediately after your name to designate that you are the corresponding author.
  • Purpose and Introduction: State the purpose of the experiment. This may be the same as in your lab notebook. Expound on possible applications of the experiment (i.e. contaminants in ground water). Give a brief introduction or a summary of the background for this experiment, including relevant theories concerning the experiment or the instrument you are using. There should be a brief description of how the instrument works. You should cite at least two (2) literature sources other than your lab manual or your book in your introduction. Experimental: Write the procedure similar to that in your laboratory notebook. Use drawings to describe unusual or complicated apparatuses.
  • Results and Discussion: Report the outcome of the experiment. Brief interpretations of observations and results may also be given in this section. Discuss any sources of error in the experiment and your confidence in these results. Describe any practical methods that could be used to improve the experiment. Discuss statistical data, such as standard deviations, as well as the agreement of your data with literature values where possible. Conclusions: Discuss the outcome of the experiment and any consequences the results might have. Discuss what the results might mean in terms of the possible applications mentioned in your purpose.
  • Questions: All assigned questions are answered in this section.
  • Bibliography: Write all references including the books and articles that are cited in the report. You should have at least two references for each lab report.
  • Appendix: Staple the photocopy of the contents of your notebook for this experiment here.

Note: Personal opinions or suggestions should be directed to the instructor.

Laboratory Policies

Pre-Laboratory Preparation

Many of the Chemistry 105 laboratory experiments are quite long and many use chemicals that could present a hazard if used improperly. Thus, all students are required to judiciously prepare for each experiment by carefully reading the experiment and writing a Title, Purpose, Procedure (brief outline), and Data (outline) section before arriving at the laboratory. The Pre-lab write up should also include all calculations for any solutions that must be prepared including the necessary dilutions of stock solutions. Any student without these sections completed at the beginning of the period will have to leave the laboratory room until they are completed. In this situation the student will still be required to complete the experiment in the allocated time and no extra time will be granted.

Laboratory Technique and Cleaning Up

Good laboratory skills require a person be not only efficient but also safe. Discretionary points are given to students at the end of the quarter based on their techniques. This means that those who are well prepared and well organized will be further rewarded. Cleaning up your area and making sure that the common areas remain clean are a part of good and proper laboratory techniques.

Laboratory Make-Ups

Due to the fact that many of the experiments require standard solutions and/or solutions of a limited shelf lifetime, it is absolutely essential that students make every effort to come to the required laboratory period to complete the experiment. In cases where the student cannot attend their registered laboratory period due to emergencies and sickness, the student must supply verifications to their TA. The TA will then write a letter of exception that the student can use to gain admittance to another upcoming laboratory period. Students will not be allowed to work in a non-registered laboratory period without such a letter. Only in verified cases, or in cases where a student makes a gross experimental error, will the TA write such a letter and the student must make-up the experiment as soon as possible. It is the student's responsibility to notify the stockroom of their intention to make-up an experiment so that all the needed chemicals are prepared.

Late Reports

Laboratory reports are due at the beginning of the period on the date specified by the TA. Arrangements for late reports must be made with the TA. It is the students’ responsibility that the reports are received by the TA. Late reports will carry a 5-point deduction for every day the report is late.

Unknowns

Students will obtain all unknowns from your teaching assistant. You must be explicit in your request for an unknown; that is, be sure you know the name of the experiment and unknown. A student may obtain extra unknown only once during the quarter without deduction. Any later requests for extra unknowns will be met with a 30% reduction in points.