Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lab Time Baby!

Today was our first time in the lab. It was incredible. This wasn't your average high school experiment, in fact, it was far from that. When we first arrived to the Havemayer Building, we were told to wait outside the laboratory. Finally Professor Avila arrived with a handful of laboratory lab coats and goggles for our protection during the experiment. After we were ready to enter the lab.

The laboratory was extraordinary. The lab was so clean, so organized, so equipped. These were labs I would never imagine myself being inside working. The labs at Pinole Valley cannot even compare to the facilities in Columbia. There, we conduced a lab determining the freezing point of acetic acid. At first, I was completely confused. I had no idea what we were doing. On top of that, I was paired with only one person, while everyone else was placed into groups of three or four, making the experiment a bit more difficult.

Eventually, my lab partner and I understood the lab and were successful enough to finish what was needed to be done. I really did learn a lot from all that we did today. Later during our discussion, I was able to answer questions our mentor asked us such as the definition of supercool, which is when the temperature of liquids are below the freezing point but soon become frozen, resulting in the temperature from rapidly rising.

During lunch, Professor Avila treated us to lunch, along with brining a couple of graduate students at Columbia University, each one having a specialty in a single subject. There were students in physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and theoretical chemistry. I, interested in the field of health science, went along with an organic chemistry student. The student was very informative in giving us the depth of his specific field. He told us that organic chemistry was based on making the various pills and drugs that help people overcome symptoms and diseases. Right now, the student along with his follow researchers, are working on finding a cure for cancer. After lunch, the student brought me to his laboratory, where he gave us a in-depth look on his occupation. 

After lunch, we were graced with the presence of the famous Columbia Professor, Gerard Parkins. He went on into a deep seminar telling us where he found a flow in a the structure of a molecule. I believe the main point he wanted to get out of us was the fact that he didn't settle for the current molecule that the current scientists had. I believe he tried to show us that hard work, perseverance, and and a little faith go a long way -- going as far as to prove everyone wrong.

1 comment:

Don Gosney said...


You're not the only person to write horrific comparisons between the labs at our schools versus those at the universities. I know it's been a while since I worked the labs at our high schools but I shudder to think what you all must be going through if your blogs have any accuracy to them.

If you get a chance, please read y comments to Sofia's blog about organic chemistry. I won't bother repeating myself here but suffice it to say that you've been warned.

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