The lab portion of CHEM1250 at Bowling Green State University accounts for 20% of your total grade, so it’s vital that you do well. Chemistry lab isn’t the easiest thing, as you will be in a lab for three hours at a time performing new experiments each week. There are a lot of things that you should know about chemistry lab before your first lab. Here are some tips for succeeding in the lab portion of CHEM1250 at BGSU:

1. Take good notes.

Your lab professor will typically lecture before starting an experiment. It’s very important for you to take notes during this lecture as they will give you vital information for the lab which may include safety precautions. The lab will be so much easier if you pay attention during the lecture before-hand.

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2. Follow all of the Safety Precautions!

You are not only putting yourself in danger if you don’t follow the safety precautions, but you are putting other students and your TAs/professor in harm’s way as well. Not only can ignoring the safety precautions cause you to harm yourself or others, but you could also get in trouble with the University if you act carelessly in a lab setting. Bowling Green State University has brand new labs and they should be treated with carefulness.

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3. Read the lab in your manual before class.

By reading the lab before class, you’ll have a better understanding of all of the steps to completing the lab in the easiest and best way possible. You will also be able to ask your TA or professor questions regarding the lab if you’re confused about something before you begin so you don’t make any mistakes. The lab manual outlines the whole process of the labs you will perform, so it’s a good source of information.

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4. Do the post-labs and the pre-labs.

These account for a large portion of your lab grade, and if you don’t complete them you won’t be in good shape. Many professors won’t even let you into the lab until you have completed your pre-lab so if you don’t complete them before class, you will also miss out on the points from the lab you will be missing.

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5. Don’t skip lab!

Skipping lab will cost you so many points and odds are, if you miss a lab, your professor won’t allow you to make it up unless you have a valid excuse that you can back up with paperwork. Each lab is set up specifically for the week, so if you cannot make it to your lab section, don’t skip, talk to your professor about attending a different section during the week. Sleeping in or napping isn’t worth losing 60+ points!

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Some of the experiments in chemistry lab are very difficult, but many of them are really interesting. A few of the labs you may perform are:

1. Analyzing Vinegar

Okay, this doesn’t sound that interesting but it really is. You will determine the percent of acetic acid in a name brand of vinegar vs. a store brand of vinegar and determine which one is better. The process you will use during this experiment is called titration and it really requires a lot of patience.

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2. Analyzing a Coordinated Compound

In this lab, you will determine the empirical formula of a coordinated compound without knowing the percent by mass of each part of the compound. All of the percent masses are determined experimentally and at times it can be difficult but it overall was a pretty easy lab, just very time consuming. This lab had many parts and took 4 weeks to complete but once you’re done it’s pretty cool to look at all of the work you did and see that you’re actually applying chemistry concepts learned in lecture in real situations.

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3. Paper Chromatography

During this lab, you’ll determine the cations present in various unknown substances. This lab is very interesting considering you are able to do this with just a piece of paper and a fluid called an eluent. The different cations will appear at certain heights on the chromatogram and will have different colors. This lab is one of the easiest ones and isn’t very time consuming.

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These are just a few of the labs that you will perform during your time in CHEM1250 and they all allow you to apply chemistry concepts from lecture into real situations. It’s vital to know how to work in a lab to truly understand chemistry and you should get as much out of your lab time as possible. Many of the labs are very interesting so you should probably pay attention and really try to understand them.




Ally Freehoffer

I am a first-year student at Bowling Green State University majoring in Forensic Biology. I'm involved in the Forensics Learning Community, an on campus health and wellness group called CHAARG, and Omega Phi Alpha, the National Service Sorority.

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