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Anne Bentley, Lewis & Clark College
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Last seen: 2 days 21 hours ago
Joined: 04/01/2008 - 8:09pm

What's in your "dream" inorganic laboratory classroom?

Our department is working with facilities on our campus to develop plans to remodel the small classroom space we use to teach our inorganic lab course, capacity 12 students. 

What facilities do you think are essential to include in an inorganic teaching lab?  For example, do you use natural gas? House vacuum? Schlenk lines and glove box?  Do your sinks have hot water? We have our own opinions, of course, but I'm curious to hear about what others do in case we are forgetting something important.  Is there something you don't have that you really wish you did?  Something you find your students use all the time?

Thanks in advance! 

Karl S. Hagen, Emory University
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Joined: 11/23/2010 - 9:00am

House vacuum is very useful. It's more important if you do a lot of aqueous chemistry, but not that useful if you are using more volatile nonaqueous where you need to trap the vapors. Useful if you use rotovaps and need to conserve water,

Natural gas so that you can demonstrate or teach glassblowing. Need a supply of oxygen as well. Preferably piped into the lab so you can run off of one cylinder. "House nitrogen" where one source of nitrogen gas can be distributed to each Schlenk line. 

Kyle Grice, DePaul University
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Joined: 07/22/2010 - 5:29pm

If I could design a lab from scratch, here's what I would think about (I teach inorganic in an organic lab, so have some of this is what I have):

House vac, Air, water, and a gas tap that can be fed from a tank  you install in a corner/closet. That way, you can hook up an N2 or Ar tank and all of the hoods can use it. You can hook up methane if you want to do glassblowing. I would want no more than 2 students per hood. 

Dedicated locking drawers for students to store compounds and equipment when not in lab (so their stuff isn't shared/disturbed)

Central island with plenty of space to put various things. 

Vac oven (we don't have one in lab, so I take the students compounds to my research lab when they need to be dried overnight in a vac oven).

Hood specifically for chemicals/solvents for the lab, hood specificially for waste (standard in ochem lab, but something to remember to include). 

Rotovap or two, multiple balances (3-4). 

Close to instrumentation rooms (NMR, GC, IR, UV-Vis, etc), and have dedicated NMR tubes, GC vials, cuvettes and IR cells just for the inorganic lab. Don't have any plastic UV-Vis cells around because they will put organic solvents in them and melt them. 

Have dedicated frits and similar glassware just for the lab (they get really dirty and you need to basically aqua regia them at the end of the quarter). If they share them, the organic students get random colors like purple (porphyrin lab) in their stuff. 

Plenty of moving whiteboards to write on. 

I wish I had a microscope w/camera in lab so students could look at their compounds/take pictures when they make them. Especialliy good if you are having them do crystallizations. 

So far I have not done schlenk work (havent found a lab that I like for the group yet), but I am working on incorporating that in.