Chemistry Lab

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Description: Students will show their knowledge of Chemistry through tests and labs in the areas of gases and nuclear chemistry


This event, like most others, rewards the students with the most knowledge in the subject area. There is nothing you can do better than to study the material.


The 2006-2007 version of this event will focus on gases and nuclear chemistry, so put your enthalpy and entropy notes away, and forget about gibbs free energy. While very little is known about what the actual rules of the upcoming year's event, one can deduce what the focus will be. This event is moving more towards 2nd year (AP) chem students, while before Chemical ID was also in the mix and Chem Lab was designed for 1st year chem students.

Gases will probably include gas-phase equilibrium. For an actual lab, reactions that produce a gas will be explored. Hydrogen gas, as well as carbon dioxide (from carbonate, not just combustion) will be common products of these reactions. Combustion reactions will also show up. Nitrogen dioxide equilibrium may be used as well.


Nuclear chemistry will almost certainly contain radioactive half-lifes. Carbon dating may or may not be included. Alpha, Beta, and Gamma decay reactions will probably be used in the competition. Nuclear fission and fusion could be tested.

Added: Other things that could be added onto the nuclear chemistry section are...

  1. weak and strong nuclear forces
  2. electromagnetic forces
  3. Fusion
  4. Fission
  5. Special forms of beta decay
  6. Half lives

Things that could be added onto the gas section...

  1. Ideal Gas Law (PV-nRT)
  2. General Gas Law (P1*V1)/T1 = (P2*V2)/T2
  3. Boyle's Law P1*V1 = P2*V2 = Gas Constant
  4. Charles' Law P1/P2 = (V1/V2)(T1/T2) = T1/T2
  5. Avogado's Law V = constantAL n

The Below includes the focus of past years


Acid & Bases First of all, an old favorite, acids and bases. Last year in all 4 competitions I participated in (2 invitationals, regional, and states) this meant an acid/base titration lab. If you are not familiar with this lab, you will definitely want to ask a teacher to explain it to you before the competition. Believe me, I have seen a team ask the event coordinator what titrate means in the middle of the test, and he was not a happy person. This is a fairly quick and simple lab to complete and it is more than worth your while to DOUBLE CHECK YOUR LAB if you have enough materials. At the state level, I ran the lab through 4 times and averaged the very close results to come up with a more accurate overall result. In a free-response style lab report, this might also get you some extra points for style and accuracy. In the test, the acid/base questions ranged from difficulty of identifying if a solution was an acid based on its pH to balancing advanced reactions trying to find the acidic constant. In order to excel in this event you must be prepared for all levels.


Stoichiometry

Next, stoichiometry. I do not know what kind of questions this are will bring but I can explain a little about this $5 term. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines stoichiometry as "a branch of chemistry that deals with the application of the laws of definite proportions and of the conservation of mass and energy to chemical activity". Stoichiometry deals with calculations about the masses (sometimes volumes) of reactants and products involved in a chemical reaction. It is a very mathematical part of chemistry. The most common stoichiometric problem will present you with a certain amount of a reactant and then ask how much of a product can be formed. Ex:: 2A + 3B ---> 3C, Given 25 grams B and unlimited A how much C will be produced. This is called a mass-mass problem. These problems can be solved in 4 simple steps.

  1. Make sure the chemical equation is correctly balanced.
  2. Using the molar mass of the given substance, convert the mass given in the problem to moles.
  3. Construct a molar proportion (two molar ratios set equal to each other) following the guidelines set out in other files. Use it to convert to moles of the unknown.
  4. Using the molar mass of the unkown substance, convert the moles just calculated to mass.

Other forms of stoichiometric problems are finding the limiting reactant and finding the percentage composition. You can find out more about these in the links below.

The last topic is reactions. This is a very generic area so you will have to wait until sample problems come out in the rule book to see what will be on the test. Most problems will probably involve balancing reactions so that the products equal the reactants. You will definitely want to know the five main types of reactions (single displacement, double displacement, combustion, decomposition, and synthesis). Caution: Because this is a very open topic many test makers, especially at the regional level, might take it upon themselves to use questions that you may never have seen before. Just try your best and understand that if you have been diligently studying and haven't seen it, chances are neither have the other teams.

One last thing I would like to mention is strategy. There is a strategy involved all events and I will reveal some hints on a good strategy for this event. First off, don't try to learn everything by yourself. You have a partner for a reason, use him. It heps if you divide up the study load so that you can learn more in depth in the topics. Next, if the test is extremely long divide it up. There is no reason for two people to be working on the same problem that one person could do. Lastly, it often helps to have one person do the lab while another starts the test. This saves you valuable time if there is a long test, or allows you to put extra effort into careful practice knowing you are not pressed for time.


Thermodynamics A focus, the primary focus in a majority of 2005-2006 chem lab competitions. Thermodynamics is a very broad topic, so a variety of problems were used. Basic enthalpy problems were found sometimes. Entropy and Gibbs free energy were significantly more important, as they were more advanced topics.


Links:

  • Stoichiometry links [1]
  • Acid and base links [2]
  • Upper level reaction links [3]
  • Study for the AP Chem test [4]
  • Some Chemistry tests [5]