Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Last Weeks of a Great E-Term Course


During the third week of E-Term, my class went on a couple of day trips to Blacksburg, VA. We went to Virginia Tech to see their crystallography department. Crystallography is basically the study of a solid compound and determining its structure, which is done by machines and computers. While at the facility, we were given lessons on how the crystallography machine worked and how to operate the computer program used to create the structures of compounds. We then were able to take solid crystals we created in our lab time and use the machines to find the structure of the solid compounds we made. Using the computer program was challenging because it does not just tell you the structure of the compound; you have to figure it out. However, it was a very interesting experience, and I think my class and I took away a lot from this trip.

E-Term has now ended. I had a fantastic time these past three weeks. We spent most of the first two weeks in the lab doing whatever kinds of experiments we wanted to do. Some of the guys in my class have a fascination with explosions; Dr. Powell allowed them to do some very small-scale experiments that produced bright light, smoke and/or fire. I am not much of a fan of making fire and explosions, but I did one pretty cool demonstration by using a copper penny in which a colorful, fun reaction takes place.

Other than that one awesome demo, I spent most of my time conducting failed experiments. But that’s ok. Sometimes experiments don’t work. I often think that you learn more from a failure than from a success.

This chemistry E-Term was a great experience. I did a lot of things I know I normally would not have been able to do. I conducted experiments that were interesting to me as well as see other experiments my fellow students were working on. I also had a great time working with my fellow students as well as with Dr. Powell. This was an experience I will not forget!

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