Synthetic vs. Physical labs

My friend sent me this meme about ‘the rules of labs’ which I thought was really funny, and mostly true for synthetic lab, which we’ve just completed .

We’re changing over to Physical lab now, which is less about attempting a technique to get a specific product (where more often than not your product is the wrong colour or texture, or the analysis you do afterwards shows you made the completely wrong thing, and thats if you get a product at all!). Sometimes the labs aren’t even expected to work , but they don’t tell you about it at the time! Its about explaining how you get the results you come out with. e.g. getting the correct melting point or IR peaks on your spectrum. And if you don’t, then explaining why it may not have worked.

Physical lab is very different. It’s very hard to go wrong a such as you’re not making anything physical, like a compound. It’s more about analysing what happens in an experiment, a simple example from first year being recording the temperature of water against the time it takes as its cooled or heated, and collecting a lot of data, which you then spend hours pouring over attempting to work out what it means, making graphs and breaking maths (in my case at least).

It’s less about the actual lab (as they are generally simpler and shorter), and more about the reports: which are much harder to do well in!

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About Nikki

Nikki graduated from the University in Summer 2013 with BSc Chemistry and is no longer blogging for this site.

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