Orgolab is saving me from the "vagueness" of medical school

Lvoen Bgilisis

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-quote from my orgo professor when he gave back our 2nd exam...

I have a question for you kids who for some reason alway do so well in labs...How the hell do you do it?? Do you clean your glassware with "special" acetone or what??? I work hard and always do well in all my classes yet somehow I am seriously screwing up orgo lab... Do you guys have any practical advice for organic lab??? Thank you
 

Kazema

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I used to screw up chem labs horribly too.

I started being more thorough with the prelabs (not just copying the procedure into my notebook but actually trying to understand it) so that I actually knew what was going on, what steps were definitely not okay to screw up and on which steps it was okay to kind of go through a little faster. Orgolab is mostly just really time consuming - try to get your labs finished early (as in don't ever miss a lab session if you can help it) so you're not rushing to get things done at the end. Knowing when to take your time with something and when not to pretty much sums up Orgolab in my opinion.

And about glassware, make sure it's all bone dry. Rinse everything with acetone and let it air dry. This is especially important for the Grignard lab I'm sure you'll have to do. If your glassware isn't absolutely bone desert dry you'll screw it up. I screwed mine up like 4 times before it worked because of that.
 

MWillie

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Ask what the group to the left of you got and then ask what the group to the right of you got. Average the two numbers and now you have a reasonable figure to use.
 

fun8stuff

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MWillie said:
Ask what the group to the left of you got and then ask what the group to the right of you got. Average the two numbers and now you have a reasonable figure to use.
heh... this is the key to success in all labs... that and a good eraser so you can fudge your numbers! :thumbup:
 

Firebird

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Instead of cleaning your glassware, just go to the stockroom and get new stuff. It works, trust me.

Ok, maybe that's not what I did.

Sometimes labs work, sometimes they don't. One thing to do, is be patient. I remember in Adv. Inorganic Lab, we synthesized an explosive and then had to detonate it. The professor told us that in all the years he had taught it, only once had the substance not exploded...so of course that puts a lot on my shoulders.

So when mine was supposed to be ready to set off, it didn't blow. So I just waited 20 extra minutes and bam, it blew up louder than anyone else's. Bottom line: don't always pay attention to what the lab says...if it says do this for 10 min, it might take 15. If it says add 5 mL of this, add 7 and boil it down a little. If you know and understand chemistry, you'll know where you can fudge what the lab book says and where you have to be careful.

And whoever said have dry glassware for the Gringnard Reagent is absolutely right. Clean it with acetone the previous lab and set it in a dry area. If you have a drying oven, that works best. In fact, clean two extra conical vials (if you're doing microscale, heaven help you if you're not) just in case the first try is a dud.
 

vikaskoth

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Lvoen Bgilisis said:
-quote from my orgo professor when he gave back our 2nd exam...

I have a question for you kids who for some reason alway do so well in labs...How the hell do you do it?? Do you clean your glassware with "special" acetone or what??? I work hard and always do well in all my classes yet somehow I am seriously screwing up orgo lab... Do you guys have any practical advice for organic lab??? Thank you
surprised you didn't learn this in gen chem lab, its called making up your results or getting the peoples from the station next to you
 

MWillie

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vikaskoth said:
surprised you didn't learn this in gen chem lab, its called making up your results or getting the peoples from the station next to you
Yeah seriously. The people giving tips about cleaning your glassware extra well are a buncha nerds. Just copy.
 

vikaskoth

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what one of me and my lab partners liked to do was just pick a reasonable, percent yield or product yield and work backwards. nothing too ambitious in the 70's,80's
 

Kazema

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I'm so not a nerd i have lots of friends lots of people like me and I have lots of friends
 

mdsadler

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I hated Orgo labs with a passion and most of the time really never got what I was supposed to as a product. Our practical lab final was the Grignard reaction and I honestly handed in an empty vial.
 

shantster

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Lvoen Bgilisis said:
-quote from my orgo professor when he gave back our 2nd exam...

I have a question for you kids who for some reason alway do so well in labs...How the hell do you do it?? Do you clean your glassware with "special" acetone or what??? I work hard and always do well in all my classes yet somehow I am seriously screwing up orgo lab... Do you guys have any practical advice for organic lab??? Thank you
My organic professor, who is fresh out of graduate school btw, has told us multiple times that labs just sometimes don't work no matter what you do. So, sometimes I wouldn't worry about it. We just finished doing unknown analysis and for doing NMR, IR, and Mass Spec, he just had all the data in books labeled with the numbers of our unknowns. For two of my compounds, the preliminary tests did not work as they should of, but my professor just shrugged it off as "oh, it may not always work the way that you expect". So anyway.. the moral of the story is that organic labs can be tempermental at times so don't worry about it too much. Just check with other people in your lab about their results and see if you are similar to them before you start your write up.
 

Kiroro

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Lvoen Bgilisis said:
-quote from my orgo professor when he gave back our 2nd exam...

I have a question for you kids who for some reason alway do so well in labs...How the hell do you do it?? Do you clean your glassware with "special" acetone or what??? I work hard and always do well in all my classes yet somehow I am seriously screwing up orgo lab... Do you guys have any practical advice for organic lab??? Thank you
I have to answer your question cause you are definitely asking this question to me!
Hey Lvoen, I'm from U of Florida also and I was in the same boat with you last semester.
I did very well in all my classes but when I took Orgo Lab last semester I really thought I would end up with B or C in it. I tried very hard for the lab but I just could not do well in the pink report sheet because if you make one mistake in that report sheet you will get 3 points off, which is 30% of the grade and throw you into "C". I did especially badly at the beginning of the semester, my average for the report sheet was like 6 or 7. I seriously thought about dropping the class.

Long story short, I was able to get A in the end and here is how I did it.

1. Do well on the quizzes. If you had earned As in orgo classes you should be able to do well on the quizzes so try to earn as much points as you can by the quizzes. If you have any friends from other session of the lab ask them what was on the quiz. Sometimes you may get lucky and have the exact same quiz with your friend.

2. Do well on the spectra exam. This exam counts a lot for the lab so if you study hard for this exam you can definitely make a big difference. I scored perfect (40) on this exam and I knew many students from the same bay got only about 25-30, so it helped me a lot.

3. Do well in the multi-step lab and determine the unknown lab. These two labs' report sheet counts hell of a lot more than other labs' report sheet. Multi-step is 2.5 times more and Unknown lab is 4 times more. So be very careful when you do these labs. Especially for the Unknown lab, you really need to manage your time well. Give yourself enough time to determine the unknown....

4. Clean your lab ware very carefully. I got a lot of points off from the report sheet cause my crystals were always yellow colored while they were really supposed to be white. About in the midway to the semester, I realized that this is because my Buchner funnel was stained yellow on the edge from the previous semester and I never cleaned it well.

5. Don't worry too much because there is a big curve for the class grade. Last semester, right after all the labs have finished, I went to talk to the TA for my total point average. I had only 83.5. However since there were only 2 more ppl had higher average than me in my work bay I ended up with an A due to the huge curve. Those 2 ppl had average of 87 and 85. Apparently nobody scores very high in the lab.

You definitely have potential to obtain A in the end if you keep trying. It's not late at all cause most of the later labs count much more than the earlier ones. So don't give up. You can do it! :luck:
 

nico05

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Honestly, short and to the point:

1. Read the lab procedure twice before the actual lab
2. Get an idea of what is supposed to happen and ideal results.
3. Pay attention, read directions, and go slow.
4. If you do not get desired results, explain why. Like another poster said, labs dont always work. If you can explain why your results are not correct, you wont be wrong!

Good luck, take it slow and make the best of lab. It can really help your overall grade. :thumbup:
 

cfdavid

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Yeah, my 'yields' left much to be desired as well. The colors of my precipitates were never quite 'right'. Not to mention my 'overshot' titrations!! That sh%t took patience! I guess I'm not cut out to be a surgeon.
 

dmoney41

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It's really not that bad. I was a disaster in first semester orgo lab, but I ended up working in an organic lab part time by the time all was said and done.

The problem for me was always being patient. I'd always half ass things or just skip ahead without thinking, which would lead to brilliant things like pouring my solution into the sep funnel ... without checking to see if the spout was closed.

The key is to just be very slow and careful with everything. You're not an organic chemist, you haven't run 2000 grignards, you can't just hammer it out without thought. Just stop and think before you do everything and you'll be ok.
 

Firebird

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The thing about Organic lab is that it's really the first lab you have that challenges your lab SKILLS. Freshman lab doesn't really do that. So this is the first time where you're actually having to put some effort and planning in to how you're going to go about the experiment.

I feel obliged to say this, after all this talk about organic labs being temperamental: If they don't work, it's because something went wrong...not because they have a mind of their own. So don't get discouraged thinking there's nothing you can do to fix it. Failed labs fail because there was an error--and it might not always be you--sometimes our TA's messed up the reagents. There was one lab where, out of a class of about 50, 2 or 3 people got product.
 

musiclink213

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Firebird said:
Instead of cleaning your glassware, just go to the stockroom and get new stuff. It works, trust me.

Ok, maybe that's not what I did.
just in case anybody trys to do this, it won't happen on my watch. we let them trade in dirty glassware the first day, and after that, it's tough cookies. believe me, you don't won't to be on te bad side of the stockroom. we talk. your profs will know how often you come to the stockroom, not a good thing.
 

pratik7

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I always used a little extra of the reagents. If it says weight 5g, i would weigh 5.5 to make sure i got enough compound and i had a nice yield
 

Tiddly of Winks

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musiclink213 said:
just in case anybody trys to do this, it won't happen on my watch. we let them trade in dirty glassware the first day, and after that, it's tough cookies. believe me, you don't won't to be on te bad side of the stockroom. we talk. your profs will know how often you come to the stockroom, not a good thing.
Dude, pull that stopper out of your, um, test tube.
 

QofQuimica

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Understanding what you're doing is by far the most important requirement to succeed in organic lab. You should read and re-read that procedure before you ever set foot in the lab, and if you don't understand something, you need to contact your instructor and ask for clarification. Start your preparation early in the week, NOT five minutes before class begins. Success in the lab requires proper planning, and yes, even a degree of anal-retentiveness. The suggestions about cleaning your glassware well and making sure it is dry are also good ones.

In my classes, I never dock students for low percent yields, as long as they can calculate them correctly and reasonably explain where the missing mass went. Same with purity; if the reaction didn't work well, I am most interested in knowing whether they understand what mistakes they made, and what they would do differently if they were to repeat the lab again. I believe that the point of the lab is for the students to learn some organic chemistry, yes, but even more importantly, they should be learning how to solve problems logically and scientifically. However, if your instructor does grade you on your experimental outcomes, then you will have to work on improving your technique. I would recommend that you make an appointment with your instructor to get suggestions on what you can be working on to improve your grade.

That being said, one of the few things that I absolutely WOULD flunk a student for doing (with an FF, if it were egregious enough) is falsifying his or her data. Falsification of data is a form of fraud, and it is completely unethical, whether done in an undergraduate teaching lab or in the lab of a prestigious Nobel-prizewinner. There are problems with professional scientists doing this on occasion, and it leads to retractions of papers, public embarrassment of investigators and institutions, and erosion of the trust among researchers. So I recommend that you NOT listen to the posters who recommended doing this. I am going to assume that they made such a suggestion tongue-in-cheek....at least, I hope they did. :rolleyes:
 

Firebird

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musiclink213 said:
just in case anybody trys to do this, it won't happen on my watch. we let them trade in dirty glassware the first day, and after that, it's tough cookies. believe me, you don't won't to be on te bad side of the stockroom. we talk. your profs will know how often you come to the stockroom, not a good thing.
oh chill out...a stockroom person on a power trip is as bad as a TA on a power trip (i.e. QofQuimica)
 

Kazema

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nico05 said:
4. If you do not get desired results, explain why. Like another poster said, labs dont always work. If you can explain why your results are not correct, you wont be wrong!
Just to emphasize this point. A good explanation that shows that you know what should've happened even if you didn't get it to actually happen will really help out your score. Especially if they're backed up by good lab notes that showed that you tried, made adjustments, tried again, made more adjustments, and tried again, etc. And write down all the stupid observations that may or may not have anything to do with the lab. Did your white compound turn a different shade of white? Write that down. Did your crystals get slightly smaller or flakier? Write that down.
 

lfesiam

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one piece of advice, follow the protocol carefully and do a quick dry run through before starting the lab.

i had a hard time at first but after doing a quick dry run before I started the experiment really helped.

_______________________________________________
this is coming from a guy who made chlorine gas by accident =)