Introduction to Experimental Chemistry

Course Info

Course Number/Code: 5.302 (January (IAP) 2005)
Course Title: Introduction to Experimental Chemistry
Course Level: Undergraduate
Offered By: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Department: Chemistry
Course Instructor(s): Dr. Janet Schrenk
Course Introduction:
Syllabus Overview

Welcome to 5.302!!! The goal of this course is to provide you with an opportunity to integrate recently acquired theoretical concepts with the experimental basis behind the discovery and development of these concepts. It was designed as a "hands on" activity outside the classroom that will be both "fun" and intellectually stimulating. It will give you a chance to see with your own eyes what is usually described with equations in a textbook; to experience the rate of a reaction in "real time"; to determine rather than just calculate chemical equilibrium; to observe instead of just predicting the outcome of a chemical reaction. In short, you will be allowed to make chemistry happen with your own hands (protected by gloves), and right before your eyes (or more precisely, goggles).

The experiments in this manual were selected such that the concepts they cover are not buried under complicated laboratory techniques. Most of them involve mixing solutions and observing the outcome. Nevertheless, the experiments are progressively more challenging.

On the first day we will visit chemical equilibrium. We will study the formation of different coordination compounds of nickel, analyze how temperature affects the coordination chemistry of cobalt, and study the solubility equilibrium of several silver compounds. This will be followed by a practical application, the preparation of a black and white Polaroid negative.

On the second day we will focus on electrochemistry. Several processes that involve electron transfer reactions, like plating, corrosion, and oxidation of sugars will be examined along with the preparation of a cyanotype print (from the previously prepared negative).

On the third day, we will study the kinetic mechanism of the reaction between potassium iodide and potassium persulfate, a.k.a. the Iodine Clock Reaction.

Finally, we will take a look at a couple of organic compounds with interesting properties, polymers and dyes, by synthesizing Nylon 6,10 (a commercial polymer) and Methyl Orange (a common azo-dye and acid-base indicator).

All these experiments involve concepts that you have already studied in either 5.111, 5.112, 3.091, or your high-school chemistry class. Hopefully, Chemistry 5.302 will serve to strengthen and broaden your understanding of the concepts studied in the aforementioned courses.

Welcome again, and thanks for joining us in this IAP experience.