Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chemistry Lab

This week's chemistry lab involved a series of reactions, and creating balanced equations from those reactions.  My preparation started last week, when I started looking around for the "copper wool" that was needed for the lab.  I didn't think it would be hard to find--just like steel wool, right?  It turns out that it was NOT that easy to find, however.  After running around to several stores like Home Depot and WalMart, where I expected to find this elusive product yet had no luck, I went home and googled.  It turns out that, should you ever need copper scrubbers, you can buy them at Walgreens.  Not other drugstores, like CVS.  Don't be ridiculous!  Only Walgreens.  So that problem was solved.

The next issue was a broken crucible lid.  Last week we had lab on Monday, since I was helping at the other co-op on Tuesday morning.  As soon as lab was over, I had to leave to take Anna and Grace to gymnastics, so I just left everything on the counter to cool.  When I got back, it was apparent that someone had climbed the step-stool and clapped the crucible lid on the granite counter a few times, shattering it.  (We all suspected Nathan or Luke immediately--ha ha!)  I ordered another crucible set right away (2 actually, LOL), but I forgot that yesterday was a holiday.  When I checked the tracking over the weekend, I found out the new crucibles were not scheduled to be delivered until this (Tuesday) afternoon.  Oh no!   Panic ensued, as I scrambled around to find another lab.  Then I more carefully looked at the lab--and discovered that although we needed to heat the copper wool in the crucible, we didn't need to cover it.  So, that problem solved too.  Whew!

Last night I stayed up WAY too late making sure I could accurately make a 6M solution of sulfuric acid, and a 6M solution of sodium hydroxide.  I had done the calculations, but they weren't agreeing with what the guy on the DIVE cd was saying, and besides, I did not need to make a liter of the stuff--I only needed around 25 mls of NaOH, and only 5 mls of the H2SO4.  So I was stressing out about being accurate with making such small amounts.  Finally, at around 1:00, I decided this really was a qualitative lab, as opposed to a quantitative lab, and I could probably just wing it without worrying so much about solution accuracy.

But I still didn't sleep that well, because I was really quite worried about actually MAKING the solutions.  What happens on Tuesday mornings is I take only Caleb, Jonathan, and the 3 girls to TNT, then pick up the McC boys and head back home, where we immediately start chemistry class (well, as soon as I change the poopy diapers and clean up other random messes that have ensued since I left the house not that long ago).  This doesn't leave any time to make solutions up, and I certainly was not about to make the solutions up in the morning before Micah and Drew got up, and then leave these strong acids and bases on the counters where Micah might cause any number of problems with them while I was gone!  But making them up as soon as I got back home was not a great option either. Who makes up strong solutions with a crawling infant and a toddler hanging onto one's legs?!  This sort of situation just doesn't seem like it would happen in any other lab, LOL.  I gave the Rivendell boys a quiz over polyatomic ions while I worked, and I put Drew down for a nap before I started, so that at least got one little out of the way.  Fortunately Micah chose to play very nicely by himself in the playroom right then, so that was nice, although he did come back in the kitchen later to watch the proceedings.  I guess I should get him his own set of little goggles, LOL.  Still, it is a somewhat stressful situation for me.  Again, just not something most chemists have to deal with!

But the lab was a lot of fun, and we didn't have any spills or accidents!  All that worry for 1 1/2 hours of chemistry!  They are such a fun group of boys.  Today was "Tie Day", just because, LOL.  Such trend-setters!  Definitely on the cutting-edge of lab fashion, for sure! 

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