SAT Subject Test Chemistry




The Laboratory

These skills are usually tested on the SAT Subject Test in Chemistry. You should be able to . . .

• Name, identify, and explain proper laboratory rules and procedures.

• Identify and explain the proper use of laboratory equipment.

• Use laboratory data and observations to make proper interpretations and conclusions.

This chapter will review and strengthen these skills. Be sure to do the Practice Exercises at the end of the chapter.

Laboratory setups vary from school to school depending on whether the lab is equipped with macro- or microscale equipment. Microlabs use specialized equipment that allows lab work to be done on a much smaller scale. The basic principles are the same as when using full-sized equipment, but microscale equipment lowers the cost of materials, results in less waste, and poses less danger. The examples in this book are of macroscale experiments.

Along with learning to use microscale equipment, most labs require a student to learn how to use technological tools to assist in experiments. The most common are:

Gravimetric balance with direct readings to thousandths of a gram instead of a triple-beam balance

pH meters that give pH readings directly instead of using indicators

Spectrophotometer, which measures the percentage of light transmitted at specific frequencies so that the molarity of a sample can be determined without doing a titration

Computer-assisted labs that use probes to take readings, e.g., temperature and pressure, so that programs available for computers can print out a graph of the relationship of readings taken over time


The Ten Commandments of Lab Safety

The following is a summary of rules you should be well aware of in your own chemistry lab.

1. Dress appropriately for the lab. Wear safety goggles and a lab apron or coat. Tie back long hair. Do not wear open-toed shoes.

2. Know what safety equipment is available and how to use it. This includes the eyewash fountain, fire blanket, fire extinguisher, and emergency shower.

3. Know the dangers of the chemicals in use, and read labels carefully. Do not taste or sniff chemicals.

4. Dispose of chemicals according to instructions. Use designated disposal sites, and follow the rules. Never return unneeded chemicals to the original containers.

5. Always add acids and bases to water slowly to avoid splattering. This is especially important when using strong acids and bases that can generate significant heat, form steam, and splash out of the container.

6. Never point heating test tubes at yourself or others. Be aware of reactions that are occurring so that you can remove them from the heat if necessary before they “shoot” out of the test tube.

7. Do not pipette anything by mouth! Never use your mouth as a suction pump, not even at home with toxic or flammable liquids.

8. Use the fume hood when dealing with toxic fumes! If you can smell them, you are exposing yourself to a dose that can harm you.

9. Do not eat or drink in the lab! It is too easy to take in some dangerous substance accidentally.

10. Follow all directions. Never haphazardly mix chemicals. Pay attention to the order in which chemicals are to be added to each other, and do not deviate!