Let’s be real. No one really enjoys writing a lab report or doing boring tasks during labs. As chemistry students, you will be repeating the same motions every week, doing seemingly simple tasks like dilutions or separations left and right. You may see your friends do interesting things in their other labs and get real data rather than just stick some powder or liquid in a machine to analyze something. But there is more to chemistry labs that make the experience enjoyable, regardless of the mindless tasks and tedious notebooks were told to keep.
Organic labs teach you the basics and you repeat those same skills in every application. But you can still have fun doing experiments or see some cool things that are more than just pictures in a textbook or drawings of intangible molecules. You labor in lab for a few days and you end up with a white powder as a product. The process of figuring out what you did, doing everything right (or wrong), you really get to understand why seemingly easy things are practically challenging. It won’t feel good to not get anything or get bad products but having fun is a key to making the time in these labs seem less tedious but rather a fun part of the day.
Talk to your hood partner. Get to know them. Teaming up, helping each other out and laughing at mistakes. Ask your TA questions, chat with them in a friendly way. See what they’re like. Have fun with them. Making these connections serves to lighten the grind of lab work and will make any situation enjoyable. Even if you make mistakes, that’s the fun of it.
I remember in Chem 3010, we were handling a very reactive acid, chlorosulfonic acid. We had them in test tubes over beakers of water. I was starting the reaction only for the test tube to explode. The acid fell, sizzled, and exploded the water. It was scary and dangerous, but seeing the smoke-filled hood closed and thinking that the department trusts us with some dangerous stuff is both humbling and cool. Now safety is of upmost importance but handling some things in labs that you usually don’t see in everyday life is fun and can both teach and entertain you in many ways. Have fun in your labs, its not just about the grade or results that you get but it’s certainly made better by the experiences and fun you have along the way.
Aaron Li, ‘22