4 Jan 2008

student choice experiment

Lab Experiment

Submitted by Adam R. Johnson, Harvey Mudd College

The students prepare a short proposal outlining their desired target and why they want to make it.  Chemicals are ordered, and during the last 3-4 weeks of the semester, the students carry out their synthesis.  The writeup is as a paper submtited to the journal Inorganic Chemistry using the template from the journal web page.

This is a favorite lab at HMC.  I increased the length of the experiment to 4 weeks from 2 weeks during 2007, allowing more time for exploration, optimization, and characterization of their products.  Past targets have inlucded Wilkinson’s catalyst, ionic liquids, Zr(ebthi)Cl2 (challenging), siloxane polymers (difficult to characterize).

 I highly recommend that students submit proposed syntheses early to get them approved.  The students are often either way too ambitious, or too tentative and want to make some simple thing from another lab manual.  I like them to do two linear steps (more for stronger students.)

Microsoft Office document icon lab manual pages or student handout37.5 KB
Equipment needs: 
varies widely!
Implementation Notes: 
The lab is chaos.  Hire a TA for this experiment.  Students are running you ragged for the first 2 weeks in the lab, but it is a lot of fun. 
Time Required: 
3-4 weeks, more if student presentations are included
Evaluation Methods: 
I typically have this assignment as one of 6 to 7 lab experiments that take place during the semester.  I grade on purity, yield, the proposal written by the student, and quality of presentation (when done).
Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence


I run a similar 2-3 week experiment in my Inorganic lab - chaotic for sure, but always a big hit.  I usually suggest Inorganic Syntheses as a good source for possible protocols.

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