Thursday, 14 March 2019

The Practicals

The Practicals

The English call them "practicals" and the Americans call them "Labs" either way we are talking here about experiments that are used in the teaching of GCSE and A level chemistry in the English curriculum and in the teaching of college and high school chemistry in the American system.

The list of practicals below will be extended over time as periodically I add instructions to perform experiments that illustrate the blogs you find on savvy-chemist.

I should add that I personally am and always have been a great advocate of chemistry as a practical science.

"Experiment is the interpreter of nature. Experiments never deceive. It is our judgment which sometimes deceives itself because it expects results which experiment refuses. We must consult experiment, varying the circumstances, until we have deduced general rules, for experiment alone can furnish reliable rules." Leonardo de Vinci

And Leonardo is quite right.

The current trend in the UK to reduce the lab experience of students and limit the number and type of experiments they carry out in school or college is to be lamented.  What can substitute for the formation of bright yellow lead iodide from potassium iodide and lead nitrate in the incredibly fast precipitation reaction.  The surprise and clarity the experiment gives students is unsurpassed.  No You Tube video or textbook can replicate the hands on feel and experience of seeing that reaction take place in real time under your control. 

We are losing something very special in restricting experimental work.

You will find here links to practical experiments that illustrate the chemistry blogs and links to the blogs themselves.

#1: The dehydration of alcohols
blog link here

#2: The oxidation of alcohols
blog link here

#3: The preparation of 2-chloro-2-methylpropane
blog link here

#4: The reactions of alkanes and alkenes


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