Trina L Short (trinalin) wrote,
Trina L Short

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Recrystallizing can be a be-yatch

I'm sitting in my library in the comfy chair with Linus sprawled on my lap and Lucy sleeping on my headrest. I suspect the little ones missed me while I was away re-learning organic chemistry. Don't worry, babies, only one more week of classes!

As an adjunct professor for Indiana University thanks to ACP (Advance College Project), I can take classes at IU for free. And the chemistry department offered a 2-week survey of organic chemistry with us ACP teachers in mind. So I figured, free graduate credits that would be useful and accomplished quickly? Hell yah!

Well... it would be free if I didn't live 3 hours from the Bloomington campus. So I have decided that my big summer trip is to take this class. The dorm room rang up to over $500. There's a $120 tech fee/lab fee that won't be reimbursed. And 12 hours of driving for the course = gas expenses. Oh, and going out to eat daily doesn't help.

Other than the fact that the dorms were air conditioned (woohoo) I knew nothing about them. Fridge? Microwave? Towels? Well, turned out towels were provided, but the rooms have no fridges. (There's a microwave for the floor that I could use, however.) In anticipation of no fridges, I brought my cooler and some milk and yogurt. And it wasn't until midweek after I purchased a bag of ice that I discovered the ice machine on the ground floor of the dorm. Heh.

The course has been great. Kate Reck is the instructor and she's the one who trained us at the ACP training in June. There are 10 of us students but I'm the only newbie to ACP. A few of the students took Kate's class that she offered last summer on analytical chemistry. I'm relearned a lot, and there are things I'm pretty sure that I'm learning for the first time.

I already talked about our first lab. We do labs on Tues & Thurs (and need long pants - it's bloody hot this week and will be hotter next!) Our Thursday lab was on extraction and recrystallization. We were given a container with three unknowns - an impurity to be filtered out, an organic base, and an organic neutral substance.

We dissolved the compounds in diethylether and then filtered out the charcoal. Next, we added sodium hydroxide to make the acid soluble in water and used a separatory funnel to separate the two solutions. The neutral compound was separated from the ether by a rotovap (nifty device that evaporates volatile solvents by spinning & using a vacuum), which was our second time using it. The acidic solution was returned to an acid, whereby it precipitated out of solution.

We decided to just recrystallize the acidic compound, so my partner, Rich, determined the melting point of our neutral compound. We were just .2°C over the accepted value for naphthalene (which was the correct compound). Meanwhile, I was working on recrystallizing our carboxylic acid. The super saturated solution (I was using ethanol as the solvent) was room temp, so I put it in the ice bath, and it immediately all fell out of solution. Bugger.

No matter, reheating the flask allowed me to redissolve the solution. And this time I went even slower. I was adding cold water to a room temp water bath, when Kate stopped over. She suggested scratching the flask bottom with a scoop, and proceeded to do it. Whereby the crystals came out in a big clump once again. We both about fell over with laughter. (The things that chemists find amusing).

So no idea if we would have gotten the right melting point for our acid. We were basically out of time by then, so my partner and I cleaned up and put our goggles away for another week.

One of my intentions when taking this course was to eat at the nifty ethnic restaurants near campus. Only the weather conspired against me. It was so hot at the start of the week that I went to the student union Mon & Tues. Wednesday, four of us went to Nick's for lunch, where I had the nicest cheese steak I'd ever had. See, at Nick's they don't chop the steak up, it's just laying on your hoagie. Nice and medium rare and very yummy with the provolone and onions.

Thursday, Kate invited those of us who could to join her and her hubby for supper at their favorite Mexican place for supper. So I had yogurt for lunch and joined Kate, Bill, Marvin, and Kevin at La Torre near the Kroger on College Mall road. I had a combo meal with a carne asada, two chicken flautas, and a spicy chile relleno. Very yummy and excellent company.

And my night life on Thursday wasn't done yet. It turns out that the Indiana Festival Theater just started their summer run of The Comedy of Errors. So Wednesday night, I purchased a balcony seat for the show. As soon as I'd driven back to the dorm, I walked to the theater and sat in the middle of the balcony to watch the show. It was excellent. The set was tiny, but very fun to look at. The cast did a great job (though both Antipholus's stumbled on a few lines here & there) and I loved the addition of an accordion player separating the scenes. They had a queen instead of the duke, which was fine too. I laughed a lot (as did the rest of the audience) and enjoyed myself. The walk back to the dorm was also very pleasant.

Today, most of the class went along with Kate to Amol India for Indian Fud. They had a nice buffet and I ate well. And then Kate footed the bill for us! Nice lady! (And a very good teacher, too.)

Class let out a little early today, which allowed me to leave campus a bit earlier and I got home before 7pm. Been hanging out with the kitties most of my time here, downloading free software which I get with my IU ID. Free Adobe CS 5.5, free ChemBioDraw, free (with the exercise files!) It's all good!

Tomorrow I'm off to watch HP7.2 with the parental units. Am looking forward to this. And I think Sunday I wanna catch some World Cup (I've missed most of it this time around, alas). And then Sunday night, back to Indiana!
Tags: acp, college, food, theater
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