Friday, February 3, 2012

If you're not Part of the Solution, you're Part of the Precipitate (Daniela)

Hello friends!

I hope February is off to a great start for you (it’s 29 days this year, you know). I’d like to take some time to talk to you about Chemistry labs! Every first year engineering student has to take CHEM 1E03, and if you’re like Genna and myself and decide on Chemical Engineering, you get to take CHEM 1AA3 in second year!

If I think back to my high school chemistry labs, it’s striking how different they are compared to university chem labs. First of all, high school labs are what, 40 minutes? At Mac, the labs are 2 and half to 3 hours long. The funny thing is, it’s sometimes a rush to finish.

To participate in labs, you’re required to take an online safety course so you know how to handle and dispose of certain chemicals and various safety precautions. Guess what? You can actually use strong acids! They’re available! Woo!

The most pleasantly surprising thing for me when I entered my first chem lab was that there is legit equipment, and most of it is set up for you when you get there! For example, the lab I did this week required titrations, an electric pH meter, a fume hood and various acids and bases. We had to find the isoelectric point of casein by first precipitating it with an acid, and then putting it back into a solution using a base. It was really cool, although my lab partner and I both had issues precipitating the casein.

Sometimes, labs are individual and sometimes they are done in pairs. It depends on what equipment is needed and the difficulty of the experiment.

I enjoy chem labs a lot, and I’m glad I get to do them again in second year. You get to throw on a lab coat, some heavy duty goggles, and accurately measure, graph and calculate. Labs are a great way to learn about the material you hear about in lecture, and they are pretty fun if I do say so myself!

Later days,


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