Chemistry 103 Lab Syllabus - Academics

Chemistry 103 Lab Syllabus
FALL 2002
Statement of Purpose: The purpose of the Chemistry 103 Lab is to continue your education as a scientist at
the college level. What does this mean?
1. Scientists, unlike the ancient Greek or medieval philosophers, learn by doing and seeing for themselves.
How does one know how many teeth a horse has? Scientists don’t vote. They don’t consult classic texts
form antiquity. They find a horse and count. In this laboratory you will answer questions by “counting
2. One of my professors used to say “The essence of science is to strive to reproduce yourself.” You do an
experiment and you get a result. How do you know it’s right? You repeat the experiment under identical
conditions. You repeat it again. The more times you do an experiment and get the same result, or close
to it, the more confident you are of your data and your conclusion. When in doubt, do it again.
3. Scientists strive for objectivity. That is, you cannot be confident of the conclusion or result of an
experiment unless someone else can repeat your work, and find the same results/conclusions In this
course, you will often compare your results to results previously obtained and published in the literature.
4. Scientists rely upon the evidence of their senses, and, an extension, the evidence of instruments. You
will constantly ask yourself in this course, “How well does this instrument measure? How good is my
data? How do I know what I know?”
5. Scientists are craftpeople. It is said of a scientist, as a term of approbation, “She/he has good hands in
the lab.” You will learn to manipulate the tools of the trade, how to get the best out of them, and what
their limitations are. You will begin to become “good-hands” people.
6. One of my professor’s professors used to ask: “What is the essence of science? The essence of science
is to change one variable at a time!” You will learn how to design experiments to answer specific
7. Scientists seek underlying order in seemingly random events. You will learn how to collect and organize
your data in such a way that order is more readily apparent.
You must bring these items with you or store them in your drawer for every lab:
  Safety glasses;
  Lab notebook (sewn-in numbered pages);
  Lab text or lab handout;
  Indelible writing pen;
  Indelible marking pen.
  ID (Knight Card). No Card, No Computer!
You may also wish to bring a lab coat, a ruler, a calculator and a pencil.
In this laboratory:
1. You will learn to keep a laboratory notebook, which is a useful working document. A good laboratory
record will allow you or any other educated person to reproduce any experiment you do during the
2. You will learn to use the ordinary tools of the chemist’s trade. You will become familiar with the
accuracy of your instruments, and you will use them to get results, which are in reasonable agreement
with published data.
3. You will learn to organize your data and results in a clear, lucid fashion which any educated person can
easily follow. You will learn appropriate techniques to analyze your data.
4. You will learn the rudiments of data analysis by statistical means.
5. You will learn and observe those measures, which will ensure your safety, and the safety of everyone
else in the building and in the Champlain Basin.
Technical note: While every effort will be made to select and schedule experiments such that they will coincide with topics
covered in lecture, this will not always be possible.
Attendance: Chemistry laboratories are a regularly scheduled part of your formal academic schedule. As such, they
take precedence over any and all extra-curricular activities. Excused absences must be verified in writing through the
Associate Dean's Office or Health Services. Experiments missed due to an excused absence need not be made up. An
unexcused absence will result in a zero (0) grade for that experiment. You must contact your lab Instructor regarding
these matters directly, before the lab.
Lateness: If you arrive sufficiently late to miss the pre-laboratory lecture, it will be deemed that you are not prepared
in terms of the safety requirements for the laboratory. You will not be admitted to the laboratory and will receive a
zero (0) for that experiment.
Safety and prelab preparation: If you come to lab without safety goggles or glasses, or are wearing contacts, you
will not be allowed in the laboratory. You may remove the contacts and get your glasses, subject to the lateness rule.
An integral part of safety is adequate preparation before you arrive in lab. You will show the instructor your prelaboratory work as "admission" to the lab. Lack of a pre-lab will be deemed sufficient evidence that you are not
adequately prepared to carry out the experiment in a safe manner, and you will be required to leave the lab. Any
violation of the safety rules will result in you being required to leave the laboratory and getting a zero (0) for that
Lab Reports: If you are turning in a multi-page lab report, the pages must be stapled together. If not, only
the first page will be graded. Any additional unstapled pages will be regarded as scrap paper and recycled.
MSDS sheets are available to you for information on every chemical you will see. COMMUNICATION
E-Mail is a great way for us to stay in touch and communicate rapidly. As I will be sending E-Mails to you
with some frequency, you are:
1. Required to have an Mikenet E-Mail account (You already have one);
2. Required to check your mail early and often. You are responsible for checking your mail daily.
Retrieve the “Using Excel” manual. You can get it off the web at: SCORING
The Chemistry 103 Laboratory is weighted at 25% of the total course grade. No separate letter grade will be
Your total score will include the following components:
1. 1. Open lab notebook, closed lab text quizzes. (20%)
2. 2. Lab notebook and writeup. [See: Keeping the Laboratory Notebook] (  60%) [See caveat about
stapling, above]
3. 3. Results ( 20%). In this lab, effort counts a great deal (80%, in fact). Results also count. This
assessment of your lab technique will be measured by the accuracy of your data by comparison of your
results to known values, the precision of your data, as determined by standard deviation, or both where
In this course it is expected that you will adhere to the Saint Michael's College Honor Policy. More
important, it is expected and assumed that you will adhere to the code of personal honor and ethics which is
part of the character of every scientist. Making up “data” or reporting some other person’s data as your own
(including failure to correctly cite the source of any information you did not yourself obtain) will result in a
score for that experiment of “0.” Any behavior which endangers your safety or the safety of your colleagues
will result in expulsion from the laboratory.
What you see is what there is.
It’s a balance, not a scale.
Yes, you should use distilled water.
Reality is a leading cause of stress for those who are in touch with it.
When in doubt, convert to moles.
You’ll never go far wrong by sticking a label on it and saving it.
There’s no such thing as a dumb question.
You know more than you think you do.
Neither the instructor not the TA know what that stuff is in your test tube. Only you can tell us.
When lost, read the directions again.
There’s a stapler on the inside of the lab door.
Stick it out. By May, you’ll be able to make a soufflé.