CHEM409-001/2             Physical Chemistry Laboratory (CRN 13061/13062)                        Fall 2021

Synchronous Hybrid Instruction and Lab Contact TW 2-4:50 (1 credit hour)

Slack Invitation to Pchem Lab (use Winthrop email address)

Lab Schedule



Dr. Maria C. Gelabert Artiles

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

Office Hours – M 12:30-1:30 (Sims 305 or Zoom), F 3:30-4:30 (Zoom) or by appointment

Course Synopsis and Goals

In this laboratory course, experiments are completed that connect with the CHEM407 lecture material. Besides laboratory skills, techniques in data collection, error estimation and propagation, calculations, data presentation 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 and appropriate citations.

Required Materials

Spartan Student Edition, v. 8 ($25 with coupon code WINTHROP25)

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

safety goggles

University Competencies

Competency 1: Winthrop graduates think critically and solve problems. 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. 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. 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. You will practice communication: data is recorded, analyzed, and written up into a report that contains numerical and written information.

Student Conduct Code

As noted in the Student Conduct Code: ''Responsibility for good conduct rests with students as adult individuals.'' The policy on student academic misconduct is outlined in Section V of the Student Conduct Code in the online Student Handbook.

COVID-19 Statement

During this pandemic period, each student is expected to act in the best interest of the WU community by behaving responsibly to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, respecting others’ desire to remain COVID-free:

·      All students, faculty, and staff must wear masks inside buildings and classrooms, unless alone in a private office. All members of the campus community must follow campus guidance on masking. Students who violate WU guidelines will be asked to comply. Continued failure to comply may result in referral to the Dean of Students Office as a student conduct violation.

·      Use the Medicat Patient Portal COVID-19 Health Tracker daily.

·      Please do not attend class if you have fever or any signs of the COVID virus; do not attend class if your roommate or someone you have close contact with acquires the virus and be respectful of others’ desire to remain COVID-free.

·      As possible, please maintain physical distancing, especially inside buildings.

If you haven’t already, please familiarize yourself with Winthrop’s Return to Learn protocols. Let’s do all we can to keep each other, and surrounding community, healthy!

COVID-Related Absence

Students should contact Health Services regarding a positive test, close contact, or enhanced COVID-like symptoms. Any student who has either tested positive, has COVID-like symptoms, or has close contact with someone who has COVID, must contact Health Services. Students should log in to the Medicat Patient Portal to schedule a TELEPHONE TRIAGE Appointment w/ COVID as the reason and upload the positive test result if applicable. Health Services will communicate with the student on what steps to take next, and if need be, the Dean of Students Office will get absence verification for required isolation and quarantine.  Students who verify their absences through the Dean of Students Office often minimize any academic impact caused by missed class time. Health Services will only provide dates of absence, not medical information. Please note, residential students who test positive should also follow their personal COVID Quarantine and Isolation Plan.

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 Disability Services, please inform me as early as possible in the semester.

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. A list of these resources is provided in the Blackboard Tutorials & Campus Resources, found in Blackboard.

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.


Course Meeting Logistics

The pandemic response includes physical distancing in the Sims 305 lab; thus, experimental procedures will split into two shifts. Unless otherwise noted, Shift 1 will check into lab at 2:00, and Shift 2 will check into lab at 3:30. Before each lab meeting, you are expected to watch the remote lab lecture, read the handout, and earn ≥ 80% on the Pre-lab Assignment/Quiz. Allow at least an hour for completing pre-lab activities. Anyone missing the respective quiz deadline receives an absence for any experiential portion, or about 1% against total course grade. Please ensure maximized safety with over-the-top clarity about experimental procedures.


This course is defined by experiential learning. 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. With the global pandemic and potential quarantines/isolation, makeup labs might be done remotely. To preserve the integrity of this experiential lab course, please ensure outstanding experimental clarity, in the event of remote makeup labs or mandated conversion to an online course.

Safety Rules

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


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

  5%     Blackboard and Slack Participation

  5%     F2F attendance, online presence and participation, lab preparation, safety, competence and respect for others

15%     Pre-lab/Quizzes: completed by 2:00 pm on lab day – grade of 80% required before any experimental work

15 %    Notebook Pages: due immediately, no later than 24 hours after lab contact time

20 %    Post-lab: first draft due 48 hours after lab/computational work is completed; unlimited subsequent drafts until Lab Report due date

30 %    Lab Reports: normally due one week after completing experimental work

10%     Final Exam (December 8-9)

–1 %    Per incident involving lack of safety glasses/mask, dangerous lack of preparation, or any incident judged by the instructor to be unsafe and preventable



Minimum letter grades



A, A–


B+, B, B–


C+, C, C–


D+, D, D–, CR




Pre-lab Assignment/Quiz

Allow at least an hour for completing pre-lab activities that include reading, video and Pre-lab 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 Pages Assignment

The bound, non-spiral lab notebook is the only thing used 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, etc.). Your lab notes should be clear enough for anyone to repeat your experiment, and by the end of the lab experiment, every person should have their own original data in their lab notebook. Making thorough notes also facilitates the write-up procedure and helps you become established as a working chemist. The following practices are strongly recommended:

·      Table of Contents and numbered pages

·      Titles/Dates/Activity: one page for each major activity, leaving back of page blank.

·      Observations: all relevant observations should be noted.

·      Inclusion of other course resources: lab writeup, lecture notes, journal article, notes from office hours, conversations with lab partners, Bb forum or Slack channel, etc.

·      When in doubt, leave space.

After each experiment, Notebook Pages is due within 24 hours, with three rubrics for raw data, experimental writing, and experimental detail. This assignment consists of the rough drafts of your formal report Experimental section, as well as collected data. The experimental draft may be in sentence or bullet form; either way, writing must be in third person, past tense and passive voice. “This was done.” You will organize these on no more than 2 pages of the lab notebook. Handwritten, photographed notebook pages are expected to be legible.

Post-lab Assignment

This assignment is due within 48 hours, with rubrics described below for calculations, propagated error, and accepted value/source. Your Post-lab is graded at least twice: intentions are for you to correct and resubmit as needed, the final version due along with Lab Report. Only the final Post-lab grade is folded into 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.

                                          Q: For each calculation type, is (at least) one sample calculation shown along with complete carry-through of significant figures and units?


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

                                          Q: For each calculation type, is (at least) one sample calculation shown?


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.

                                          Q: Is the comparison between calculated and accepted values addressed? Is there a reputable source named and cited?

Lab Report and Grading Rubric

The Lab Report is uploaded to Blackboard as a single pdf document, normally due one week after lab activity. Submission of multiple files will result in a grade penalty. Please keep your Blackboard confirmation and verify the report was submitted. The penalty for late reports is 1 point per day, or one subletter letter grade per day.

Five rubrics for form/writing, abstract, experimental, data presentation and discussion/systematic error are described below.

NOTE: Calculations, Propagation of Error, and Literature Comparison sections (9 points) are part of the Post-lab. The Lab Report (15 points) has the elements described below.


Form/Writing (3):                       Organized and written for a peer audience, with no typos and written in the science-standard third person, passive voice, past tense. Attention to detail, such as formatting for chemical substance names and ACS-formatted citations.

                                                  Q: Is the report organized, with no typos, spelling errors or obvious formatting issues? Are chemical substances correctly named? Is the writing in past tense, passive voice, third person, such that ‘‘this was done’‘?


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/Systematic 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

Use citation-sequence system in accordance with the ACS Style Guide. 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.