Posted by: thediygeochemist | January 20, 2010

My students can think….right?

Today I taught my first session of Chem1 lab for the semester. Note that at least half of the students are re-taking the class after failing it last semester.

They had been emailed a short reading assignment on safety and lab equipment. I therefore began the lab with a very short quiz on the material covered–10 multiple choice questions. Most people were done in 5 minutes or less.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of my students did very well. I specifically made the quiz easy so that anyone reading the assignment should be able to get 8 or 9 of the 10 questions right. However, three of the questions proved a little too difficult for my students:

Which of the following is NOT a safety hazard in lab?
The correct answer was “listening to your TA”. I thought this one would be totally obvious, but 2 students chose other options. Maybe they think I’m a dangerous person?

When in lab, you should have no exposed skin:
Half a dozen people answered this “Anywhere”. Which is wrong, of course: I only expect people with religious convictions to show up in burqas.

For the question about spilling acid on yourself, a surprising number of students thought that neutralizing the acid with a strong base was a good option (!!!!). I live in fear of what will happen if an accident actually occurs.



  1. I can commiserate with you after having taught 6 semesters of intro chem lab. Some students are enjoyable, some are okay, and some you wish to hold underneath a pool of water until the bubbles stop coming up.

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