Laboratory Manual for Elementary Chemistry
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This lab manual is intended for use in an introductory chemistry course. It starts at the beginning, assuming no prior chemistry or lab experience, with an introduction to basic lab techniques and the use of simple lab devices for measuring mass and volume. The curriculum moves on to a variety of experiments involving qualitative and quantitative aspects of chemistry. Experiments cover density, graphical techniques, calorimetry, gravimetric analysis, Lewis structures, shapes of molecules, molecular modeling software, chemical reactions, titration, properties of gases, atomic and molecular weight determinations, solutions and metal ion analysis. In addition to being an excellent companion to an introductory “lecture” course, successful completion of this laboratory curriculum should nicely prepare a student for future laboratory coursework in chemistry.
Many lab manuals available for use in introductory chemistry courses consist of a collection of one-period experiments where each experiment covers a few basic concepts or techniques. Once the period ends, the experiment is over and there is little likelihood of any continuing discussion— even if students have lingering questions about the concepts involved in the experiment. Not surprisingly, this approach can be very frustrating for students at the introductory level.
This lab manual attempts to improve the lab experience for introductory students through use of a series of two- to four-period projects where the work each period is connected to the work in previous and future periods. The goal is to bring students along on the important concepts—always allowing them another opportunity to clarify their understanding as we move forward. One key aspect of this approach is a guided discussion at the start of the next lab period that focuses students on the work from the previous period and connects it to the next part of the experiment. The questions are conceptually challenging and are intended to make the students stretch their understanding of the current project. Another key aspect of this approach is a final report that requires students to integrate concepts from each lab period’s work and to demonstrate their level of understanding once the project is completed.
Another feature of this lab manual is the inclusion of pre-lab and post-lab videos aimed at enhancing student success. Some are traditional video clips of laboratory techniques and experimental procedures. Others are pre-lab and post-lab lectures where the primary goal of these supplemental materials is to provide students (and instructors!) with a baseline level of background information for each experiment. Although some components of a traditional pre-lab lecture will still be needed, better preparation prior to arriving at lab is expected to improve performance and satisfaction with the lab experience. Post-lab information provided in these movies will further improve success with the experiments. A traditional pre-lab typically covers some post-lab information that students are not necessarily able to engage with prior to completing the experiment. The post-lab materials function as an “after hours” resource for students as they do calculations, write chemical equations, and interpret their results in order to complete their lab report. Ultimately, the provided videos form the basis for the ongoing connections and scaffolding of information that are necessary for this project-oriented approach to lab to be successful.
Keys to Success
Safety in the Laboratory
Equipment Operating Rules/Instructions
Laboratory Tools: Experiment 1A
More Laboratory Tools: Experiment 1B
Calorimetry: Experiment 1C
Water of Hydration: Experiment 1D
Shapes of Molecules: Experiment 2A
Shapes of Molecules: Experiment 2B
Chemical Reactions: Experiment 3A
Chemical Reactions: Experiment 3B
Solids, Liquids, and Gases: Experiment 4A
Solids, Liquids, and Gases: Experiment 4B
Analysis: Experiment 5A
Analysis: Experiment 5B
Appendix: “Test Yourself” Questions