Friday, October 29, 2010

Lab Quote Friday #9

This week in lab the students were making alum from coke cans.  Alum is pronounced al-um, but students continually pronounced it like the shortened version of alumni.  Let's review:



Alum has some great uses.  You can read all about it here:

The importance of reading directions CAREFULLY:
The first step in the experiment is dissolving little aluminum pieces in boiling potassium hydroxide.  One group had a solution that was a different color than all the others.  The professor inquired about what they had used/done, but they claimed they had followed the directions.  Not long after, people in the lab started coughing a lot.  Turns out the group used concentrated sulfuric acid instead of potassium hydroxide.  Note: boiling concentrated sulfuric acid is NOT a good idea, reading directions carefully IS a good idea.

Later in the process, students get crystals to form by cooling their solution in an ice water bath.  If they have added too much liquid in earlier steps, they need to boil off some of the water or crystals will not form.  Here's a conversation I had:
Me:  You'll need to boil off some of your water before you move on to the next step.
Lab Girl:  Ok. 
  - She then proceeds to turn down the flame on her bunsen burner which causes it to go out. -
Lab Boy:  What did you do that for?
Lab Girl:  She told me to. 
Me:  I said you'll need to boil off some of your liquid, not turn off your burner.  "Boil off" means letting the solution boil so that the water evaporates and your volume decreases.
Lab Girl:  Oooooh, I get it.  I'm not too good with these scientific chemistry terms. 
Me (thinking only, of course):  You're probably not too good with simple cooking terms either!

Just a heads up- labs will be winding down over the next couple of weeks.  There will only be a one or two more lab quote Fridays before I take a break.  Labs will start up again mid-January.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lab Quote Friday #8

This is going to be a short, early post this week because I'll be out of town tomorrow.

1.  Lab Girl:  Don't touch my funnel!!  Get your own funnel!

2.  Lab Boy:  We got 78% error.  That's not too bad is it?

3.  Lab Boy to TA:  What's your name?
     Me:  It's the 9th week of lab, and you don't know your TA's name yet?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my wonderful Mom's birthday.  It seems that as we grow older, birthdays seem less and less important.  I'm not sure why that is because it seems like we value life more as we grow up.  Through hard situations and times of loss, we realize how precious our loved ones are and should celebrate those relationships as much as we can. 
I thought about making a list of all the things I love about my Mom.  Then I realized that the list would never end and I would probably be sitting here in a pool of tears.  I love my Mom more than words could ever express anyway.  She is the dearest friend, best shopping companion, and most enjoyable cooking/baking partner that a girl could ask for. 
I love you, Mom, and hope you had a wonderful birthday.  See you in a few days!

Josh's graduation
Me and Mom at Josh's graduation- May 2009

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fireplace in progress

Our fireplace has been through some changes since we moved into our house in Aug '09.  Last Friday, we had a fireplace insert installed that will hopefully be our main source of heat for many years to come.  Here's a look at what our fireplace has gone through...

Fireplace before we moved into our house- 6/24/09 
(Yes, that is a safe above the mantle.)

Fireplace at Christmas before safe was hidden- 12/5/09
Fireplace at Christmas with safe hidden- 12/6/09
Fireplace at Christmas with Mom's handmade stockings- 12/27/10
Fireplace during remodel- 3/24/10
Fireplace before insert was installed- 10/14/10
Fireplace with new insert and some accessories- 10/16/10

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lab Quote Friday #7- Mispronunciations

Since our labs didn't really meet this week, I thought I'd devote this post to mispronunciations we commonly hear throughout the lab.  For those of you who aren't familiar with lab equipment, I'll include pictures as well.  Feel free to comment and add your own favorites too!

#1  Buret (or burette) often pronounced "barrette" or "beret"


#2-  Crucible- often pronounced "cubicle" 


#3  Graduated cylinder- a past coworker of mine called them "granulated cylinders"

NO (granulated sugar is the closest I could get!)

#4-  Coplin jar-  another past coworker of mine called these "copper jars" in all of her written documents- it took me quite a while to figure out what in the world she was using in her procedures!


#5-  Pipet (pipette or pipetter)-  often pronounced "pipe-it" or "pip-it" or "pip-ette"


 #6-  Assay- students pronounce it anyway they can to avoid saying a--
 YES (assay plate)


And just in case you haven't seen enough pictures in this post, here's our lab cowboy:

Oooh- flame test!

Lab cowboy has a problem with goggles staying on- they are big on some people and slip off easily.  Someone suggested that he wear the kind with a strap across the back.  He replied, "But then I would have to take my hat off."  (That made me chuckle.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Plagiarism For A Yummy Cause

I wanted to share this recipe with all of you who have kids because I think they will absolutely love it.  A friend posted this on her blog which was a recipe from this blog.  I don't know if plagiarism is frowned upon on blogs, but it's for a yummy cause.  So here's a simple recipe that is a fun alternative to pizza.
1.  Start with some pizza dough.  I recently took some great advise and bought a case of dough balls from Sam's.  What a time saver!  These dough balls make 1 really big pizza or 2 medium size pizzas for us.  At less than $17 for 20 dough balls, I think they're a bargain too!  Anyway, you need pizza dough for this recipe.  Use whatever you like.  Tear off pieces that are about the size of ping pong balls or golf balls- somewhere in that range.  Smash the little balls- I really like to use my tortilla press for this!

2.  Place 1 or 2 pieces of pepperoni on the flattened dough.

3.  Top with 1 or 2 cubes of cheese.

 4.  Top with 1 or 2 more pieces of pepperoni.

5.  Fold the dough up around the fillings and pinch the seams together so that you have a nice little ball.

6.  Place the balls in a greased pie pan or whatever pan you want that will hold everything.

7.  Brush olive oil (or vegetable oil) on the tops of all the pizza balls.  Sprinkle italian seasoning and parmesan cheese on top of the oil.                                                             

8.  Bake at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes.  Enjoy with your favorite sauce or ranch dressing.  Mmm mmm!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lab Quote Friday #6

Fall has definitely arrived here in Abilene, and I felt like this blog needed a new look.  I'm not completely happy with this background yet, but I've tried just about every color and font combination I could.  Sorry if things are still hard to read!  This was not my favorite fall background, but I was having trouble with the ones I really liked.  Oh well- I guess we'll survive.
The lab schedules came together in a strange way this semester.  Two of the 3 labs aren't requiring any prep from me this week or next week.  They are having mid-term exams and doing other activities instead.  So this means I am totally lacking in good quotes right now.  BUT, I do have one good story that has been passed on to me for sharing (thanks, Dr. S!)

Students were doing an experiment called the 10 test tube mystery.  Basically, they had to use a bunch of tests to figure out what the 10 solutions were. 
Lab Boy:  I put all of them on my arm.  This one is burning and this one is smoking, so which one is hydrochloric acid and which one is sulfuric acid?
Sadly, this boy also reportedly tasted all of them to find out which ones were bitter or sour. 
To make matters worse, this kid's last name was Smart.

My reaction:  3 strikes, you're out.  Now go stand under the safety shower for 15 minutes!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Yes, more Titus videos

These are just a couple of short videos of Titus from the weekend. 
Josh's birthday was last week, so we had a stack of cards on the end table.  This card, from my Mom, had a sticker on the end.  The ceiling fan was making the envelope move a little and Titus wasn't too sure about it.
Titus and birthday card

The second video is Titus "getting the rag."  Mom and I started teaching him this trick when I was living in NM a while back.  We don't mind playing ball with Titus, but his ball gets pretty slobbery.  We have designated slobber rags just for this purpose.  Here's Titus getting the rag for me from his toy box.  He hardly ever brings it all the way to me on the first try, which is why I think it's so funny. 
"Bring me the rag."

For those of you wondering about Titus' leg- it is wrapped because he got bit or stung my something several weeks ago.  We came home from work one day and he had this big, red, bald spot on his leg.  It has been about 90% healed twice now, but then he gets to it and licks it raw and we start all over again.  This is the one area where a kid would be easier to deal with than a dog.  Kids love to wear bandaids- dogs, not so much.  Titus got to the wound again yesterday, so we have several more weeks of the wrap routine.  I try not to make him wear the pitiful e-collar all the time, but it's getting to that point.  Such a little stinker!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lab Quote Friday #5

I just have a couple of quick quotes from this week.  Part of lab this week involved a lot of fire because we were doing flame tests.  This is one of the students' favorite labs because we get to turn lights off and see pretty colors.  For those of you who don't know about this (I certainly didn't), here's a 3 sentence lesson from our lab book:
"When electrons absorb specific amounts of energy, they can attain higher energy levels.  In order to return to the lower, more stable energy levels, electrons release energy.  If the energy released corresponds to an energy of visible light, the emission produces a color that can be detected by the human eye." 
So basically, I make some solutions and the students dip a piece of wire in them and then stick the wire into a flame.  Before the wire causes an orange flame, they should see another flame produced as the solution is burned.  This flame can be any color of the rainbow (including orange) depending on the element in solution and only lasts a couple of seconds.  Sounds like fun, right?  It is!
So with this lab, we get a LOT of "oooh"s and "ahhh"s.  We also hear, "It's blue!!  It's green!!  Oh, wow, it's red!!  Was that purple?"  It's all very exciting.
After the students test 8 different solutions, we give them 2 unknown solutions that are a mixture of 2 of the previous solutions.  They should see 2 colors before the orange flame.  One group was working on one of the unknown solutions.  It was a mixture of copper and calcium which produce green and red flames respectively.  One group shouted out "Ooooh, it's like CHRISTMAS!!"
A couple of the solutions just produce orange-ish flames, so it's hard to differentiate between the solution flame and the wire flame.  Either way, the students are seeing an orange flame, so they should assume that particular element is producing an orange color.  Instead, you hear comments like, "I don't see anything!" and "I guess it's just an invisible flame."  I ask them, "You don't see anything?"  They say, "Well, it's just orange."  Me: "Then write down orange!"