Oh - my - goodness - yes. This was a good learning experience for all the students overall. I did have just a bit of an urge to strangle Mr. McCormick though. Just a bit. This lab was INSANE. The students were reacting 2-bromobutane with five different bases - fortunately - not all the students did all five - then we WOULD have died. They were in pairs and two of each were assigned a base to test. Some of the bases, like LDA, are pretty reactive. I've never worked with LDA. This made me nervous.
They had a complicated apparatus that they had to set up JUST right to get really tight seals on everything so they could collect the gas product and run it on the GC. [...] JUST RIGHT [...] TIGHT SEALS [...] GAS PRODUCT [...] AND GC [...] yeeeeeeaaaahhhh. As soon as Mr. McCormick explained this lab in the meeting, I knew AT ONCE that it was going to be a doozy.
I actually kind of enjoyed it ... kinda ... I enjoyed hating it in my mind, but it was fun - I was NEVER without something to do. All twenty-two students were constantly asking me questions. They practically formed a continuous line that never ended the entire three hours - at least the first two for sure.
There were problems IMMEDIATELY. I warned all the students right away about what not to do and what to be careful about. I'm glad I did. First problem: Mr. McCormick sent all the students an emailed "supplemental" three pages to the lab that basically re-wrote the whole experiment differently from what they had in their lab notebook. Half the students hadn't read this supplemental or didn't know about it. What was in the lab notebook was not entirely clear either, which Mr. McCormick admitted was the case. Fortunately, I had carefully read and printed out this supplemental and handed it around to all the students who needed it - it turned out - it got used A LOT. I was SO grateful that I'd printed one out. THANK GOODNESS!! *OH* my goodness. Thank goodness I did that. Other students looked it up on their phone or laptops, which seemed to help.
Then, we had at least 3-4 students that had water getting sucked up into their gas tubes back into their reaction. (!!!) I warned them immediately - the entire lab - DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN! We figured out what was going on, after I talked to Mr. McCormick about it. ALL the students asked me to check their setup - I was constantly besieged - constantly looking for missing pieces of equipment - about 3/4th of the students who asked had to have things with their setup fixed, missing equipment procured and seals tightened. About four students who did not ask me had to restart their experiment because their setup was wrong, their seals were loose and they were collecting no gas. All those who fixed their setup got me to check it a second time. As you can imagine, I was very, very busy.
Lulu, my undergrad TA, had not read the lab. *headdesk* I got on to her about this. She said she had had midterms. I do understand this. I'm not really that upset with her. But it was very inconvenient. She scurried behind me saying, "AHHHHH!! JESSICA!! The students are besieging me, there are too many questions!! And I don't know the answers!! This is a dangerous lab!" (in a whispered panicked voice) Eventually, I think she kind of figured out how to help some of them, due to the sheer volume of questions and most of them being similar.
I had to dispense the LDA myself. Both groups using LDA had to redo their experiments, because they got messed up. Fortunately, both those two groups were pretty responsible and I didn't have much trouble with them. I made certain that this would be true and checked all their equipment EXTRA good. I was nervous about the LDA.
Apparently, to my dismay, I learned later that two of my students used the wrong needles in the GC and destroyed two septa. *headdesk* Mr. McCormick told me later and to make sure in future that they were watched closely. I warned them about that - probably not enough though - I was really being pulled thin.
Poor Mr. McCormick. He couldn't leave. He was also harried, and pulled thin. He walked through my lab, and as soon as he did, he was besieged with questions, just like I was and tied down. He solved some problems I couldn't have and didn't really have the answer for - for which I am very gratefully - he helped a lot of GC people. He actually looked like he was going to boil over, when I saw him in the GC room - he's not usually like that.
Tom, the prep room guy, was quite hilarious, as usual and helped me out a WHOLE ton. I owe him a coffee or something. There were quite a few stragglers, with the last few people all in the GC room, waiting to take spectra, because only five GC were designated for this particular lab. The others were being used by a different lab.
So, Lulu and I danced around the lab cleaning things toward the end. I cleaned a lot of the student benches to save time, even though Lulu said - what?! You're not their mother! But really - I just thought - it would help us leave faster - Lulu didn't have any complaints about this. Neither she, nor I nor Tom had eaten dinner. I wasn't hungry anyway. I had a gigantic cookie fit for a troll (that's how big it was) and wasn't much hungry after that. It was one of those days anyway.
Tom asked if he could threaten to smack people with chairs so they'd leave. I said no, but maybe I could bring my lightsaber and he could smack them with that.
Ok, so that's the story of THIS lab. OH my. It was fun. Hilarious. Dangerous. Somewhat scary. Somewhat stressful. AND COMPLETELY INSANE. [...] *MR. MCCORMICK!!* *said in a Wrath of Khan scream voice* Now, I shall sleep. Ohhhhh blessed sleep.