Course Overview: Experiments in this course are meant to illustrate concepts being discussed concurrently in Chemistry 347 and to familiarize you with many of the tools used by physical chemists. The tools you will learn to apply include the chemical literature; written and oral communication; mathematical functions; error analysis; and mechanical and electronic equipment such as vacuum pumps and computers.

Required Text: Shoemaker, Experiments in Physical Chemistry, 6th ed.

Required Equipment: bound duplicating laboratory notebook, water insoluble pen (Pentel Hybrid model available at the bookstore is acceptable) and goggles, which must be worn during lab.

Lab: 1:50-5:10 M (HS 428)

Office Hours: HS 412: 11:30-12:30 MWF, 11:20-12:20 T, 9:10-10:10 Th and by appointment. Phone: 424-1326. E-mail:

Exams: There will be a 90 minute final exam based on work done in lab. You will be able to refer to your textbooks, lab reports, and lab notebooks on the exam. The 90 minutes alloted for the exam will not be enough to figure out what you did from your text and your lab reports. You will only have enough time to use them as references to get constants, formuli and relationships correct. You will need to review your laboratory reports and correct any mistakes you made inorder to do well on this exam. You will also be responsible for material from the prelabs and assigned reading. Two non-graded problem sets will be distributed during the semester to assist your preparation for the exam.

Laboratory Notebooks: Notebooks should be records of everything a scientist does. They are used as legal evidence that an experiment was performed in patent claims and are often referred to by other scientists working on related experiments. Entries should be made in permanent ink. Notes from pre-lab lectures should not be recorded in your notebook, but all calculations and data analysis should be. Guidelines for note taking appear in Chapter I of Shoemaker. Pages should be numbered consecutively and a table of contents included. Date each page as it is used and start a new page on each day; do not tear out pages, simply draw a line through errors. Copies of your entries will be collected at the end of each lab period for grading.

Pre-lab preparation: This must be completed before an experiment may be performed. Follow the suggestions in Chapter 1 of the text, particularly the sections titled "preparation for an experiment" and "safety." Read the description of the experiment in Shoemaker and any additional assignment. The experiments are not described as a list of steps to be followed, so careful reading and reflection before lab will be required to develop a plan for the project.

In your notebook record a brief outline of the procedure you expect to follow and construct two tables of information: 1) reagents; 2) equipment. In the reagents table write the chemical name, chemical formula, a drawing of the structure, the state in which it will be found (solid, liquid, gas, or in solution), and hazard information from the Material Safety Data Sheet. If solutions are to be prepared, calculate the amounts needed. Each row in the equipment table should contain the property to be measured, the equipment used for the measurement, and the sample(s) that will be measured.

During lab: Procedures actually followed should be described in your laboratory notebook. Refer to the section on "recording of experimental data" in the text. Do not rely on a summary written before the lab. List lab partners. Include all experimental observations, data and calculations; you may staple or tape in computer printouts and spectra. If data is stored in computer files accurately record the data file names. Goggles and appropriate clothing (no sandals or shorts) must be worn at all times. Failure to wear safety goggles may result in ejection from lab and an F in the course.

Lab Reports: Because scientists use many formats for communicating information, we will practice a variety of report styles this semester.

1) Formal laboratory reports: Your reports should be written as if for publication in The Journal of Physical Chemistry. Assume that your readers have studied physical chemistry but are not familiar with your textbook. A sample lab report appears in Chapter 1 of the text. Additional recommendations on word choice, grammar, reference format, notation and nomenclature may be found in The ACS Style Guide, J. S. Dodd, Ed. (QD8.5.A25) which is on reserve in the Library.

2) Feature article for a newsmagazine: This is aimed at the general public so should connect the experiment to more common experiences. The length should be two to three typewritten pages plus one or two figures or graphs. Sample calculations and error analysis are not to be part of the article but should be attached for grading.

3) Poster presentation: This is the way most scientific work is communicated at meetings. Posters must be eye-catching and informative. Keep text to a minimum. You must have: a title, author’s name, an introduction, a body (consisting mostly of tables and figures with appropriate captions), a conclusion and references.

4) Oral report: Over the course of the semester groups of students will work to prepare a 10 minute presentation on one laboratory. The time limit means it will be a summary of the material in a formal report. Overhead transparencies should be used as visual aids.

5) Peer Review: All articles published in the literature are reviewed by anonymous reviewers. They are only published after the reviewers are satisfied that they are accurate, well written and a new contribution to the scientific body of knowledge. Most articles are rewritten at least once in response to reviewers’ comments. Often additional experiments are also done. You will have a chance to review your peer’s formal lab reports and rewrite your reports based on these reviews.

Students may discuss the write-up and calculations with each other but every student must turn in an individual report. Reports must be typed or computer wordprocessed. Use of computers for data plotting and analysis is encouraged as is reference to the chemical literature for accepted values.

Reports will be graded as follows: 10 points on writing, 10 points on calculations including error analysis, 2 points for literature search/comparison with the literature. A copy of the grading cover sheet for formal reports is attached to this syllabus. The criteria are:

1) Does the report contain all the sections (abstract, introduction, experimental method, results, discussion)? Is the information logically distributed among the sections?

2) Is sufficient information given in experimental methods for another physical chemistry student to repeat the experiment without referring to your textbook? This requires more information than suggested in the textbook.

3) Have all the discussion questions been answered?

4) Are the spelling and grammar correct? Is verb tense consistent (present or past)? In general past is preferred. Is the voice correct? Most scientific articles are in the passive voice. For example: instead of, "we did the experiment three times," write, "the experiment was done three times." Note that the implied "by _____" is left out.

5) Are the equations used in calculations included? Are there any errors in the calculations? Are the significant figures carried correctly? Are the error estimates reasonable?

6) Was a literature search performed? Is a copy of the title/author/abstract found in the search attached. You may use the references supplied in handouts or the text for actual comparison, but you must perform a literature search using STN/CAS and provide an abstract found this way for an appropriate reference.

The reviews will be due the lab day after the reports were originally due. You may rewrite reports based on the reviews. If you turn in the rewritten report within one week of getting the reviews, the grade will be recalculated as the mean average of the original and rewritten reports. A copy of one of your reports, the best, will be kept for your student portfolio. Thus you should rewrite at least one report. Turn in three copies of the initial version of your formal reports and two copies of rewritten reports with the original graded version attached. Reviews of classmates’ reports are worth 2 points each.

Reports are due in class the week following completion of the project. Late reports will be marked down 10%/day. Incomplete reports will be returned and the late penalty assessed.


library worksheet

6 x 5 =
pre-laboratory preparation

6 x 5 =
laboratory notes

6 x 2 =
reviews of reports

6 x 22 =
laboratory reports

1 x 10
oral report

final exam

points total

The total points necessary to receive a particular grade are listed below. The instructor reserves the right to change the point total downward.

A: 272 AB: 257 B: 242 BC: 226 C: 210 CD: 195 D: 180 F: <180

Assessment of Learning: As part of the department's assessment of its majors program, evidence will be added to your portfolios to demonstrate your ability to:

1) read and follow experimental protocols;

2) properly set up and safely manipulate laboratory equipment;

3) plan and execute experiments, including the use of the chemical literature;

4) maintain accurate records of experimental work;

5) analyze data statistically and assess reliability of results;

6) prepare effective written scientific reports;

7) use mathematical representations of physical phenomena;

8) use and understand modern instrumentation;

9) use computers for chemical applications;

10) retrieve specific information from the chemical literature;

11) work cooperatively in problem solving situations.

Class Schedule


Due Dates
Searching the Chemical Lit.

SM: Chpt I,

Finish previous week's lab
SM: Chpt II
“Using IGOR”
10/1 (Formal)
Rotate two labs. Reading for both labs: A/D conversion Pp. 571-573, Temperature Pp. 584-588, Thermometers Pp. 589-604 (concentrate on thermocouples, thermistors and integrated circuits), Principles of Calorimetry Pp. 145-151.
Solution Calorimetry
SM: Exp. 8, Handout

Bomb Calorimetry
SM: Exp. 6

Groups 1 and 2 start lab A
Group 3 start lab B

Finish previous week's lab

10/15 (Formal)

Group 3 start lab A
Groups 1 and 2 start lab B

Finish previous week's lab

(News Article)

Rotate two labs.
Partial Molar Volume
SM: Exp. 9, Pp. 606-610, Handout

Solid Liquid Phase Equilibria
SM: Exp 15, ice baths P. 605, Handout

Half class starts lab A
Half class starts lab B

Finish previous week's lab

11/12 (Formal)

Half class starts lab A
Half class starts lab B

Finish previous week's lab

11/26 (Poster)


Finish previous week's lab

12/10 (Formal)


*SM stands for Shoemaker