My first chemistry lab experience

It was a bright sunny afternoon – just  a week after my pre-university course had started. It was my first chemistry lab session. Our class of about 60 to 65 students was split into batches and I was in the first. Our batch was asked to assemble at the lab. Some of us with new books and probably new pens were chatting by the door and some trying to peep inside.  This curiosity was genuine as in schools  we only had some demo classes and no hands on experiences in the labs.

It was quite a thrilling moment for me . The lab was spacious and well equipped.  An enthused faculty member said “Get into into the lab quickly“.  An introduction to the chemistry apparatus and equipment was given. It was all first hand.

After the introduction, all of us were given a burette and pipette each .We were asked to fill the burette with tap water and adjust the lower meniscus to the zero mark – for practice. The next task was to practise with the pipette. I filled the conical flask with  tap water and took the pipette in my hand. I started taking in maximum air and pipetting at full speed. Some water gushed into my mouth forcing a swallow and resulting in the tip of the pipette hitting the bottom of the conical flask too hard and breaking.  Embarrassed, I began asking myself, “how could this happen?”

I began cursing myself and the lab attendant for not giving me a strong pipette. Some gaping, some giggling friends and the sympathizing faculty were adding to my first day misery.  Adding to this, mine was the first entry to the laboratory maintained book for breakages with a 78 rupees fine.

I was given another pipette. The broken piece of the earlier pipette was still in the conical flask making me even more anxious of it getting into my mouth. I begged the attendant to give me another conical flask and completed a successful pipetting thereafter.

Thanks to all my first day anxiety that I mastered the art of pipetting. From that day, I made sure that whenever I pipette, I would relax, not panic and do it right at ease and without any apprehension.

–       Manaswini H S

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3 thoughts on “My first chemistry lab experience

  1. Hi Manaswini,

    Thanks for sharing your experience. What bothers me is that your teachers asked students to pipette tap water with the mouth, if I understood right from your writeup. You see, this is a dangerous practice. Usually students who are inexperienced in lab behaviour could be pipetting a dangerous chemical using their mouth. This can lead to disasterous consequences. These days there are equipments called pipettebuoys which can automatically suck the liquid without having the need for using the mouth.

    Best wishes

    Prashanth

    Like

    1. Thanks for your comment Prashanth.
      It is a sad yet prevalent practice in our school and college chemistry labs to pipet liquids with the mouth. Unfortunately, students do not become aware of the safe method of pipetting until much later in their graduate or post graduate studies.

      Like

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