The laboratory learning philosophy is based on cooperative learning. Students
usually work in groups of two for most experiments, and are encouraged
to work together on mastering the laboratory material in a cooperative manner.
(Students engaged in cooperative learning are known to absorb material
more deeply than students in a traditional setting.) Discussion among students
while creating proposed laboratory experiments and procedures, while working in the laboratory, and while discussing the outcome from laboratory procedures
is very much encouraged. The sharing of experiences contributes to a better
understanding of the methods and chemical processes under study, and with data
interpretation and reduction.
The list of handouts is available on the class website, however, this list may grow over the course of the academic year. Always wait to print off a copy of the handout for each upcoming activity until instructed to do so, as changes to the handout text may be in progress. Any activity handouts that are not authored by teachers at Newton South will not be posted on the website will only be available from your teacher.
Some form of written lab report is required at the conclusion of each experiment. In some cases, the report will consist of completing assigned report forms supplied on this website. One laboratory activity in each term may be required as a written scientific laboratory report. For more
information, see the web page on writing scientific laboratory reports web page.
Laboratory Safety Agreements will be handed out in
the first few weeks of class. All students and their legal
guardians must read and return the signed Safety Agreement before engaging in
laboratory experiments involving chemical reagents.
Safety is your number one priority in any chemical
laboratory. It is everyone's responsibility to work safely in the laboratory
environment. As you read through the information in this handout and in the safety
agreement, remember that it is your actions, and not your memorization of rules,
that will define your safety record while working in the laboratory.
Most laboratory safety involves common sense. Stuff like — don't touch
hot items, no eating or drinking in the laboratory, and don't stick your fingers
in the bunsen burner flame.... If you let your common sense guide you, you will
probably avoid most safety hazards — you know, the self-preservation thing.
None-the-less, safety in the laboratory cannot be left strictly to common sense.
There are safety rules and regulations for working in the laboratory —
most of which are city, county, and state laws — and these rules apply
to everyone in the laboratory. Many of these rules are available
in your copy of the Laboratory Safety Agreement you must sign before you are
allowed to work in the laboratory. It is not sufficient that you simply read
the agreement — you must understand it, and agree to abide
On you first visit to the laboratory, take the time to locate the two exits
nearest to your work space. At the start of the first laboratory period, you
must become familiar with the safety equipment in the laboratory. You need to
know where to find and how to use the laboratory safety equipment including:
eye wash fountains
chemical spill kits
The placement of and the use of the laboratory safety equipment will be discussed
in the first days of term 1. Pay attention: knowledge of where to find, and how to
use, the laboratory safety equipment could help prevent injury to yourself and/or others.
*Please note that contacts lenses are not
allowed in the laboratory. If you normally wear contacts, bring your prescription
glasses along to wear for the lab period. You may wonder why contact lenses
could be a problem. Not all hazards in the laboratory are liquids or solids
— many gases are also hazardous. Gases are not stopped by safety glasses
or goggles. Soluble gases, such as ammonia (very soluble), dramatically
affect the pH balance of the delicate moisture coating on your eyes. Once
the vapors dissolve, the protective moisture coating is compromised over the
entire surface of the eye, including between the contact lens and the cornea.
Your reflex action will be to squeeze your eye tightly shut, thereby rendering
it impossible to remove the contact lenses so that the eye may be washed clean.
Your teacher has absolute say over safety matters. You must comply
— even if you don't see the necessity — or you will be
ejected from class for the current experiment. If you are ejected from the class for
a safety violation, you will receive a grade of zero for the current experiment.
Safety is also linked with environmental safety. There are very strict
rules regarding disposal of waste materials. Since many of these rules are very
new, pay careful attention in lab lecture, and watch the classroom whiteboard
for current announcements. One Cardinal rule is: do not dump anything
down the drain unless specifically instructed to do so. Appropriate
disposal receptacles will be made available for chemical waste materials.
There are special containers for the disposal of broken glassware and disposable
glass pipets. These containers are treated as containing hazardous waste, since
the broken glass might be contaminated. They are very costly to have removed
when full. Please, use these containers only for the disposal of glass — no
paper towels! There are plenty of waste paper baskets available for the disposal
of paper products.
A chemical laboratory contains many poisonous substances (so do most homes,
for that matter). It is excellent practice to wash your hands regularly
while working in the laboratory. Soap and paper towels are available. Always
wash your hands after you have cleaned your work space and are ready to leave
for the day.