Chem Lab: One of the Best Parts of Being Pre-Med!!!
The beaker tipped, shook, and then nearly fell off the counter before I grabbed it in a gloved hand. Somto and I burst into laughter as our TA passed us, shaking his head at our attempts to accomplish the Vitamin C titration. The other two members of our lab group, Charlie and Brian, grinned at us. Somto and I were always messing up, but somehow, our percent error always turned out just fine.
Chem Lab is a required 1-hour credit for most (if not all) engineering, pre-med, and other science-oriented majors. It’s a three-hour period (for me, on Tuesdays from 9:35 on) and it’s supervised by a Teaching Assistant (TA). Each member of the class has their own box with their own materials (250-mL beakers, stirrers, various Erlenmeyer flasks, tongs, etc.), and locker. There are usually 24 or so people in a chem lab (6 desks), and there are multiple sections going on concurrently.
Chem lab is SO MUCH FUN. We’re all friends at my lab table, and I’m really close (we’re best friends outside of chem lab, too!) with Somto, my lab partner. Together, we’ve struggled with the temperamental red bulbs of the volumetric pipettes, made my TA laugh at least ten times every Tuesday with our antics, sang “Blank Space” as we titrated, and squinted at the color slowly emerging from a volumetric flask during a titration. (SO many titrations).
There’s something exciting about making your own green crystals, extracting iron from cereal, or measuring the ascorbic acid in orange juice. When I drew out the magnetic stirrer from the cereal extraction today, actual iron had accumulated on the sides of the magnetic stirrer. I love those moments when chemistry becomes so real to me.
Most of all, I love talking to the people in Chem Lab. In my chem lab are members of the Blair choir, my Visions group, my house… engineers, pre-med, everyone! There’s even a SOPHOMORE (Gasp!)
Although the labs are quite difficult to prepare, James, our TA, helps us to the best of his ability. He’s always available for office hours and to answer all of our questions, and never seems to get impatient with Somto and I, even though he must be chronically suffering under the weight of all our mistakes in lab. A great TA makes all the difference. :) (James, you’re amazing!)
I never thought Chem lab would be one of my favorite subjects, but it is. I’m so glad that Vanderbilt enables students to have hands-on experience in the lab, and entrusts (usually) awesome TA’s to help the future doctors, engineers, and even lawyers of tomorrow. Although labs are required by many med school apps (if not all), the chem lab at Vanderbilt just seems to run particularly well. So… how awesome is Vanderbilt!?!? (You should know the answer to that by now).
If you have any questions, feel totally free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would LOVE to hear from you cause you’re AMAZING!!!!!!
ever most sincerely,