CHEM410-003              Physical Chemistry Laboratory (CRN 21527)                  Spring 2024

T 2:00-4:50 (1 credit hour)

2:00-2:50 Sims 113C, thereafter Sims 305


Professor Maria C. Gelabert Artiles

803-323-4939 (voice messages go to e-mail)

Office/Phone: 314A Sims Science Building/803-323-4939

Office Hours: M 2:00-3:00, WR 1:00-2:00 (Sims 314A or Zoom ID 803 323 4939/123456)

Ø  If you're joining by Zoom, please let me know by email

Course Synopsis and Goals

In this laboratory course, experiments are completed that connect with the CHEM408 lecture material. Besides laboratory skills, techniques in data collection, error estimation and propagation, calculations, data presentation, critical analysis of results and scientific writing are practiced. Important corollary skills include keeping a clear, well-organized lab notebook and synthesizing all material into a comprehensive lab report.

Learning Outcomes and Products

Upon completion of this course, students will demonstrate their mastery with the following:

·      Clear pre-lab notes, experimental description and raw data;

·      Effective manipulation of data;

·      Appropriate assignment of errors and propagation of those errors;

·      Comparison of experimental results with accepted values and reference citation;

·      Reports that are clearly written, organized, with correct calculations, thoughtful discussion and appropriate citations.

Lab Schedule

Required Materials

Spartan Student Edition, v. 9, provided for use on your laptop. Please look forward to an email with your individual license and instructions. This software is yours to keep, and nontransferable.

Non-spiral composition book, 80-100 pp, lined or quadrille

safety goggles

University Competencies

Competency 1: Winthrop graduates think critically and solve problems.

Ø  You will practice various levels of problem-solving, thoroughly analyze data, and use outside sources for further analysis.

Competency 2: Winthrop graduates are personally and socially responsible.

Ø  You will practice standard chemical hygiene and safety protocols, signatures of scientific responsibility.

Competency 3: Winthrop graduates understand the interconnected nature of the world and the time in which they live.

Ø  You will connect with other scientists with the understanding that good communication translates into effective science communication to the broader community.

Competency 4: Winthrop graduates communicate effectively.

Ø  You will practice communication: data is recorded, analyzed, and written up into a report that contains numerical and written information.

Students with Disabilities/Need of Accommodations for Access

Winthrop University is dedicated to providing access to education. If you have a disability and require specific accommodations to complete this course, contact the Office of Accessibility (OA) at 803-323-3290 or Once you have your official notice of accommodations from the Office of Accessibility, please reach out to me as soon as possible to discuss the logistics.

CAS Statement on Diversity and Inclusion

At Winthrop University in the College of Arts and Sciences, diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to our academic mission and institutional identity. We value and see others as whole people. Our faculty, staff, and students work together to create a community where people of all races, ethnicities, genders and gender identities, sexualities, socioeconomic classes, cultural backgrounds, nations of origin, ages, religions, political perspectives, abilities, and body types can truly thrive.

COVID-19 Statement

Although COVID-19 has reached an endemic phase, it is still important to remain vigilant as we face a recent rise in positive cases.  As socially responsible members of this community, everyone is expected to engage in daily health self-monitoring, to stay home (residence hall or off-campus housing) from on-campus class, work, or activities if they begin experiencing any COVID-related symptoms.

When experiencing any COVID-related symptoms, students are expected to contact Health Services by completing the QI form in the Patient Portal and respond to the nurse who will contact them with instructions. COVID positive residential students are required to follow their QI plan for 5 days of isolation off campus so be prepared with a back-up plan as well. By acknowledgement, you agree to Winthrop’s expectations of you regarding health monitoring and reporting.

Academic Honesty

All grades should be individually earned. The honor system holds expectations that students will only submit their own work effort into this course, for in-person and electronic activities. I encourage working with other students and use of electronic resources. However, if you find yourself mindlessly using material from any other person or source without full understanding or paraphrasing, or more blatant versions of not doing the work, these activities are violations of Winthrop’s Academic Integrity code. I expect each student to understand and abide by Section 7 of Winthrop’s Code of Student Conduct (p. 17) for all course activities.

Student Code of Conduct/Classroom Expectations

As noted in the Student Conduct Code, “Responsibility for good conduct rests with students as adult individuals.” The classroom environment should be a safe environment for everyone. Students are expected to listen respectfully to others and to share their own opinions and ideas in a respectful manner. Students and the instructor are expected to treat each member of the class with dignity, civility, care, and kindness. Classroom behavior that substantially or repeatedly interferes with the conduct of the class will not be tolerated. Students who engage in disruptive behavior will be subject to sanctions as specified in the Student Conduct Code.

Course Withdrawal

March 19 is the last day to withdraw from a full semester course. Students may not withdraw from a course after this date without documented extenuating circumstances as deemed by the University.

Copyright Notice

The materials in this course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course and for purposes associated with this course. These materials may not be retained or further disseminated.

Syllabus Change Policy

I reserve the right to update and edit this syllabus as necessary, including assignments, the calendar, and policies. You will be notified immediately of any such changes.

Campus Resources for Online Learners

Students who are enrolled in hybrid/online courses are entitled to the same campus resources available to on-campus students. These resources included admissions counseling, library, student services, and recreational facilities. Any logistic or syllabus-related questions may be directed to Ask the Instructor forum, on the upper left menu of the course page.

Course Communication

1.     Plan to be “present” in the course by logging in at least 3-4 times weekly and completing all assignments by their due dates.

2.     For email, you must use your Winthrop account; Bb uses only your WU credentials. Approximate response times from me: Bb few days, email up to one day. On weekends, expect response times up to ≈48 hours.

3.     If you have a general question that might be asked by other students, please use the Ask the Instructor Blackboard Discussion Forum. In the spirit of a learning community, students are encouraged to help each other by responding to questions from other students.

4.     When interacting with your fellow students online, in Bb forums or email, remember to communicate with the same level of clarity, professionalism and respect as in professional in-person communication.

5.     For private messages to the instructor or another student, only use Winthrop email.

Student Responsibilities

The following statements outline some of your basic responsibilities for this course. If you believe you will have difficulty meeting these responsibilities, it is essential that we find a way to maximize your learning experience. Please be in contact with me about any challenges, and pledge the following:

1.     I will ask questions immediately if I don't understand instructions or due dates for assignments.

2.     I will organize my time in order to complete assignments in a thoughtful and on-time manner.

3.     I understand that failure of technology is not an excuse for turning assignments in late.

4.     As needed, I will review the technical support information in the Blackboard Tutorials & Campus Resources and contacting support services.

5.     I understand that there are other sources of technology for me to use if my primary source fails, such as libraries, campus labs, or friends' computers.

6.     I will log in to class at least 3 times per week and spend an appropriate amount of time each week completing course materials.


Blackboard will be used for Pre-Lab materials/Quizzes, Post-lab and Lab Report assignments. Please familiarize yourself with the course page and consult Blackboard Tutorials or Help ( as needed.

Course Meeting Logistics

Unless otherwise announced, lab lecture will meet at 2:00 in Sims 113C with experimental work thereafter. Before each lab meeting, you are expected to study the handout and any pertinent online material, and complete any Pre-lab Assignment/Quiz. Allow 1-2 hours for completing pre-lab activities. Anyone consistently missing the Pre-lab Assignment or Quiz by 2:00 receives an absence for the experiential portion, or about 1% against total course grade. Please ensure maximized safety with over-the-top clarity about experimental procedures.

Attendance Policy

This course is defined by experiential learning. Winthrop policy states that any more than 25% student absence will receive a grade of N (if student withdraws by deadline), F or U. In order to receive a passing grade in course, you must not miss more than one experiment. If you miss a lab for any reason, you MUST contact me no later than 24 hours after your session; only under those circumstances may a makeup lab be scheduled. Please be in contact with appropriate campus resources (Dean of Students, CAS Student Services, OA) as needed, and keep me informed of any circumstances affecting attendance.

Safety Rules

Safety goggles are required in the lab at all times, with gloves during lab work. Ensure that gloved hands never touch anything other than lab materials/surfaces, and use only clean gloves (especially after handling chemicals) for computer keyboards or instrument surfaces. Face coverings are recommended inside all campus buildings, and disposable masks for lab will be provided to wear over (or instead of) any personal mask.

Cell Phone/Electronic Device Policy

The Policy for the Appropriate Use of Digital Technologies is in effect for this class. In general, laptops or tablets may be used for lab lecture but not during lab work, and no phones anytime. Exceptions for labs with no wet chemistry. I dare you to be uncontactable. Talk to me if a circumstance dictates having to check your phone.

Sims 305: Maintaining Low Entropy

Documenting Waste

In this lab course, students are expected to dispose of waste. Does it belong in aqueous waste or organic waste? If you’re not sure, review general/organic/hygiene chemistry as needed and ASK before you use the wrong waste bottle. Estimate amounts and write down information on the sheets provided.

Maintaining the Lab

It is up to all of us to maintain a clean and safe working environment. Clean up any area you use. If you see anyone act irresponsibly, feel free to let me know confidentially. If I hear you’re a slacker independently from two people, we will be having a conversation.

Washing Glassware

Clean glassware is happy glassware – the people who use it next will also appreciate it. Wash well with hot, soapy water, rinse with distilled water and allow to dry. On the same theme, when you pick up a piece of glassware, don’t assume it’s clean.


The 100‑point lab grade consists of the pieces outlined below, further described in subsequent sections.

  5%     Attendance, lab preparation, safety, competence and respect for others

15%     Pre-lab Assignment/Quizzes: completed by 2:00 pm on lab day

15 %    Notebook: due by 4:50 on the day of completed work

20 %    Post-lab: first draft due 48 hours after completed work

35 %    Formal Lab Reports: normally due 9 days after completing experimental work

10%     Final Exam (Wednesday, April 24 at 11:30)

–1 %    Per incident involving lack of safety glasses/mask, dangerous lack of preparation, or any unsafe, preventable incident

Your course grade will be based on the following 100-point scale:










≤ 59





















Pre-lab Assignment/Quiz

Allow at least an hour for completing pre-lab activities that include any of these: reading, video and Pre-lab Assignment/Quiz. This Assignment/Quiz ensures that you understand the handout well enough to begin lab work. This covers basic content and experimental lab procedures.

Lab Notebook and Notebook Assignment

The bound, non-spiral lab notebook is the only place to keep written class material: pre-lab notes, lab lecture notes, data collection, experimental problems and solutions, error analysis, etc. (NO notes on gloves, scrap paper, or disruptively calling out data to your lab partner!). Lab notes should be clear enough to repeat your experiment. Making thorough notes also facilitates the write-up procedure and helps you become established as a working chemist. These practices are strongly recommended:

·               Table of Contents and numbered pages

·               Titles/Activity: date and title of major activity on each page, with any appropriate subtitles. Describe what was done, along with any data/units.

·               Observations: all relevant observations should be noted.

·               Reference to external sources: lab writeup, lecture notes, journal article, conversing with instructor or another lab group, etc.

·               When in doubt, leave space.


After each experiment or procedure, the Notebook Assignment is due by 4:50 pm, with three rubrics, shown below and imbedded in the Blackboard Assignment:

Raw Data (3):                            Original, collected data, organized into table, list, or any form that is easy to read and understand.

Methods-Writing (3):                 Clear, organized description of procedures, written in 3rd person, past tense, passive voice, free of grammatical and structural errors.

Methods-Detail (3):                   A level of detail that's suitable for reproducing the procedure. Besides description of experimental logistics, this includes software versions, instrument name, company and model, and how data was collected.

This assignment is essentially a draft of your formal report Experimental/Methods section (sentence or bullet form), as well as collected data.

Not all experiments or procedure will fall readily into these three rubrics, but bear in mind that improvising is part of your learning. What is needed to communicate your work to an outside reader?


Writing must be in third person, past tense and passive voice. “This was done.” You will organize these on approximately 2 pages of the lab notebook. Handwritten, photographed notebook pages are expected to be legible.

Post-lab Assignment

After each procedure, the first Post-lab submission is due within 48 hours. Associated rubrics for Calculations, Propagation of Error, and Literature Comparison are below and within the Blackboard assignments. Your Post-lab might be graded multiple times: at the time of submission, and with any corrections up until the Lab Report is submitted. The final Post-lab grade is the only one counting towards the course grade.

Calculations (3):                        Calculations leading to final result, including graphs and worksheets imbedded into text file. One sample calculation for each formula or step. Submission of entire Excel worksheets and excessive typed equations/calculations is discouraged. Instead, include excerpts of Excel worksheets, small image files and handwritten, scanned or photographed calculations.

Propagation of Error (3):            One sample calculation of propagated error, or assignment-specific percent error.

Accepted Value/Source (3):        Comparison of calculated value (with propagated error window) to accepted value, or appropriate qualitative comparison. Literature source for comparison is correctly cited and formatted.

Formal Lab Report and Grading Rubric

The lab report is uploaded to Blackboard as a single pdf document. Any secondary files will not be opened. The penalty for late reports is 1 point per day, or one subletter letter grade per day. The elements of Post-lab (Calculations, Propagation of Error, and Accepted Value/Source) are to be summarized within the Lab Report (15 points), the five parts described below. Combining those elements in an appropriate, concise, formal way is part of your learning.

Abstract (3):                              (3-4 sentences) A brief overview of the entire experiment, followed by summary of theory and methods, then the final numerical results (with propagated error) and comparison with any accepted value.

Experimental (3):                      (1-2 paragraphs) A description of experimental methods and procedures, with enough detail to reproduce the experiment. What instruments or supplies were used? Concentrations? Was standardization performed? What data were taken? Include any data not included in Data Presentation. Anything unusual occur?

Data Presentation (3):               Well-organized raw data, formalized from Notebook Pages, complete enough that I can reproduce your calculations with just the Lab Report. Besides MS-Word tables, you may instead use images of neatly written tables from your notebook, or excepts of Excel worksheets imbedded as images into the report. Presentation of Post-lab calculation highlights, culminating in final calculated values with propagated error. Does one or more of the random values contribute more to error in the final value?

Discussion and Error (3):            Adapted from Post-lab, statement of calculated value comparison with accepted value, with citation. A synopsis of systematic errors. Within specific systematic errors, does the “direction” of error (low or high side) make sense with respect to calculations? How would any corrections change results?

Cited References (3):                 Use in-text, numerical citation-sequence system in accordance with the ACS Style Guide. As information is used, you are required to cite from assigned reading and any additional sources. Cite all sources used besides the lab handout, paraphrase appropriately and avoid plagiarism. Do not cite a reference you don’t use and do not use a reference you don’t cite.