Allen Schoffstall

Allen Schoffstall


Department of Chemistry
1420 Austin bluffs Pkwy
Colorado Springs, CO 80918


Department of Chemistry

As Amended, Spring 2002

Independent Study and Work Study in the Laboratory

Working Guidelines



"Keep your chin up! Not everything that you try will work. Keep your wits about you so that you can pick up on indicators from your experiments that may help you with your next experiment." (Quotation from an anonymous chemistry research advisor)



1. Be considerate of and courteous to others working in the laboratory.

2. Be aware of who else is working when you are and which doors are open. Be aware of the presence of outsiders who have no business being in your work area.

3. Lock up if you are the last one out. If unsure if you are the last one, lock up anyway.

4. If you are working out of more than one lab, be aware that other rooms also need to be secured.

5. If working on the weekends or during the evening be sure to check ahead that it is ok to work during these times. No one is permitted to to do wet laboratory work alone.

Chemistry Laboratories:

1. Keep shared equipment and glassware (cleaned) where each item belongs and clean up the common work area as soon as possible after your experiment has been completed. Some experiments require extended time period for completion. When in the midst of an experiment, put a note by your apparatus and glassware to alert others not to disturb your project. A general rule is to not disturb other's glassware and experiments. However, if you leave unlabeled items in a common area, you run the risk of losing the items during a lab clean up.

2. Store your materials in your drawer so that others will not have to work around you.

3. Keep the work area and laboratory tidy so that others may set up after you have finished.

4. If others are working in the laboratory at the same time, try to verbally agree on what spaces will be necessary for each of your experiments.

5. If you remove something from another laboratory (eg. the uv lamp), leave a note that you have borrowed the item and when you plan to return it or where the item is being kept temporarily.

6. Items in short supply that are needed by several people should be noted on the board so that additional ones can be purchased. In some cases, cost may preclude further purchases.

7. Clean up whatever you use as soon as possible. Avoid having someone else having to clean your glassware or equipment.

8. When placing orders for chemicals and supplies, look up what you want or need in the Aldrich catalog (stockroom) or in the Fisher catalog (stockroom). Get catalog numbers and prices and then turn in. For chemicals order only what you need.

9. When finished with your independent study project, turn in all chemicals and labeled products. Leave your area clean.

Safety and Hygeine:

1. Always wear safety goggles in the laboratory.

2. Abide by all safety and hygeine rules specified in the safety manual (C. Pitman).

3. When getting glassware or chemicals from the stockroom, if you are new or relatively new in your position, please ask the work-study student in the stockroom for assistance. If no help is available try to find someone else to help you.

4. Once you have been working for several months and you have become aware of the storage scheme, it may then be permissible for you to seek out stored items and to properly account for them. For example, all chemicals removed from storage and taken to one of the independent study labs should be recorded in the book in the stockroom. Otherwise another person looking for the same chemical may not know where to look or may think that our supply is used up.

5. If in need of a solvent, do not open any of the new five-gallon drums in the solvent storage room. Once these have been opened, the solvent must be transferred by stockroom personnel to safety cans for dispensing.

6. Please be aware that the fire marshall places strict limitations on the quantities of flammable, volatile solvents that may be stored under the hoods in the independent study laboratories.

Reporting and Recording your Results:

1. Keep an active and ongoing dialog about your experiments with your supervisor. Not a week should go by without having made contact at least once. As each experiment is completed, you may or may not be asked to turn in a writeup and include copies of your notebook pages and spectra, copies of chromatograms, etc. Check with your supervisor for guidelines.

2. Decide with your supervisor if an experiment is to be repeated. If it didn't work the first time, there may be some procedural cause. However, if it doesn't work a second or third time, there may be other reasons, such as impure or degraded chemicals for example.

3. Keep an active record of your hour worked. Try to make efficient use of your time by doing various chores alternatiely or simultaneously so that you can be productive.

4. Everyone is here to learn. Your supervisor understands that you may be new to doing independent work. You are not expected to know everything immediatedly about working independently. Keep your lines of communication open.

General Demeanor:

1. Students who are doing independent work should be exemplary in their interest not only oin their own projects, but also in the projects of others. Engage in discussions with your colleagues about their projects. Try to learn from one another.

2. Use the library. Remember that it is better to profit from results reported by others than to struggle to repeat what someone else has done.

3. Be aware that just because something is published does not necessarily mean that you will be able to carry out a published procedure successfully. There could be a problem with the way we are doing the procedure or with the materials or conditions we are using. there may be a problem with the procedure itself. There is a small percentage of reported procedures that do not work as well as reported or else don't work at all for any number of reasons.

4. Be aware of outside speakers and try to attend and profit from the visits of the guest lecturers. Outside speakers add a different perspective to your education. While you may not understand everything discussed by seminar speakers, these talks help to expand your working knowledge of chemistry and science.

5. Support departmental activities and the ACS student affiliates. During the past year, one student was supported by the local ACS section for travel to a national ACS meeting to present research results. The student affiliates have been active this year in doing demos for high school students.

6. Independent study is an extra enrichment experience. It is not a substitute for good course work. Remember that you are primarily here to do well academically.