An experiment in laboratory technic - Journal of Chemical Education

Abstract | PDF w/ Links | Hi-Res PDF · Necessity of fume hoods for high-school laboratories. Journal of Chemical Education. Dunbar and Shult. 1932 9 (...
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The desk i s considered as a laboratory home for which the student i s responsible. Each student is given a "laboratory technic" grade figuring as one-tenth of his final grade. Corrections i n technic call for 5'3& deductions. Faulty technic includes working on another's desk without permission, contaminating reagents, leaering any working s@ce untidy, any unnecessary carelessness, etc.

. . . . . . If worries really caused gray hairs many a chemistry professor would show hoary locks long before his time. The average student's slipshod attitude and practice in caring for his desk and laboratory is enough to make decrepit old men out of novices over night. Perhaps in the most of our laboratories the majority of chemistry students are often guilty of the worst breaches of good technic. And, in addition, many of them are perfect alibi artists. If two students occupy the same locker and apparatus is left scattered in a slipshod manner throughout the entire desk then the partner gets the blame. If equipment is left in the hood and the janitor removes it as directed, then the plea is made that some one has gone into the desk and stolen some articles. If the table top is found dirty then some one else has been working on his desk space. If the balance is out of adjustment another person has been using it. Personal apparatus such as stirring rods, pipets, and platinum wires are dipped directly into the reagent bqttles. Some one gives the floor and perhaps his neighbor an alkaline shower b trying to pour sodium hydroxide flakes from a bottle with a two-inch neck mto a half-inch test tube. Another lays the sulfuric acid stopper on the desk, or, if more convenient, on his fellow student's book. Another well-nigh chokes the entire class by preparing chlorine without taking the trouble to make use of the hood. Still another turns all the city pressure on his water condenser and sprinkles water about as effectively as the average small-town fire department. What chemistry teacher is there who hasnot seen the most of these things and many more happen repeatedly until he is almost driven to distraction? The one who has not may now cast the first stone. If one could be assured that the students would recover from such a malady by the end of the freshman year perhaps a spark of hope could be kept alive in the professor's breast. But it sometimes seems that with age and experience some students become more proficient in doing these things. The increased knowledge appears to catalyze the growth of freedom and independence. Perhaps the educators would say that it is making use of the wrong motivating factors, but we have concluded that a student's grades are among the most effective stimulants to cause him to perform unpleasant tasks. A small minority will respond to an appeal to their honor but nearly all







can be moved on the basis of grades. That which a person will half do, or evade doing entirely under ordinary circumstances, he will often do well if he knows there is to be a reckoning day. With this idea in mind, a t Greenville College we have been working for the last two years on a project of keeping our desks, which we consider as our laboratory homes, in a neat and tidy condition. One-tenth of the grade in any laboratory course is reckoned from what we term the laboratory technic grade. If, during the course, the student has never been corrected on faulty technic, about which he should have known, he has one grade of 100% to be counted. The average chemistry grade will usually stand an extra hundred figured in without appearing to be particularly padded. In addition to the careless blunders which are recorded during laboratory classes the general codition of desks can be checked when the laboratory has no classes in it. Every few days, or as much oftener as he desires, the instructor with grade book makes an inspection tour through the laboratory to record deductions from laboratory technic grades and leave "clean up" notices where the exhortation is in order. For every serious infringement the student is given a 5% deduction on his technic grade. An average or "C" student would have to receive more than three such cuts before his general grade would be lowered. At the same time he ever has before him the possibility and hope of actually raising his grade by being careful in his technic and cleanliness. Of course there is always the possibility of the injustice of charging a cut to a student when another person has wprked on his space and left it out of order. In order partly to avoid this and also more clearly to define the whole situation for all, the following list of violations was posted in the laboratory. 1. Having attention directed to the fact that one's desk needs cleaning. 2. Working on another student's desk space without his permission or that of an instructor. 3. Leaving any space where one has worked in an untidy condition. (This applies to floor space, hood space, another's desk, balances, balance tables, etc.) 4. Being reminded that one is using any kind of faulty technic about which he should have known. Some of these violations are as follows: (a) Laying reagent stoppers on the table. (b) Leaving stoppers out of bottles. (6) Contaminating reagents. (d) Dipping personal apparatus such as stirring rods, etc., into reagents belonging to the group. Handling the weights for the analytical balances with the (e) fingers. (1) Removing dry chemicals irom bottles other than by first pouring them out on a sheet of paper.

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Throwing insoluble material into the sinks. (h) Leaving personal apparatus lying about on tables or in hoods, except by permission (in which case they are to be labeled). Failing to turn off gas or water at one's desk on leaving the (1) laboratory. ( j ) Any undue carelessness which may tend to damage or cause inconvenience to others. (p)

As a result of this experiment the little sea animal, a part of whose anatomy is called the sponge, is coming into his own. At the end of a laboratory period he is much in demand. And the instructors, instead of frantically attempting to get "K.P." duty performed, are now interested observers on the side lines. With this shift of responsibility from teacher to student it is difficult to imagine what a refreshing transformation there has been in the general appearance of the laboratory desks: