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 Introduction to Experimental Chemistry  posted by  member7_php   on 2/11/2009  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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Schrenk, Janet, 5.302 Introduction to Experimental Chemistry, January IAP 2005. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare),  (Accessed 09 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

January (IAP) 2005

This cyanotype was produced by the photochemical reaction of ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide to form the deep blue complex ferric ferrocyanide, also known as Prussian blue. (Image courtesy of Meder Kamalov.)

Course Highlights

This course features a complete laboratory experiment manual. This 1-week course is offered during MIT's Independent Activities Period (IAP) - a special 4-week term that runs the full month of January.

Course Description

5.302 is a 3-unit course intended to provide freshmen with a stimulating and enjoyable "hands-on" experience with chemical phenomena. The aim of this course is to provide freshmen with an opportunity to get "up close and personal" with the chemical phenomena introduced in 5.111, 5.112 and 3.091. Interesting and dramatic experiments have been selected to illustrate and reinforce the concepts and principles introduced in the chemistry core lecture courses.


The laboratory manual and materials for this course were originally prepared by Prof. Martín G. Zysmilich (George Washington University) and Prof. Rick Danheiser. Materials have been revised by Dr. Janet L. Schrenk.  Experiment I.4 was written by Dr. Janet L. Schrenk.  Experiment II.5 was adapted by Dr. Janet L. Schrenk from an experiment developed by Prof. Pradip Malde (The University of the South) as part of National Science Foundation ILI Grant DUE-9153695.




Welcome to 5.302!!! The goal of this course is to provide you with an opportunity to integrate recently acquired theoretical concepts with the experimental basis behind the discovery and development of these concepts. It was designed as a "hands on" activity outside the classroom that will be both "fun" and intellectually stimulating. It will give you a chance to see with your own eyes what is usually described with equations in a textbook; to experience the rate of a reaction in "real time"; to determine rather than just calculate chemical equilibrium; to observe instead of just predicting the outcome of a chemical reaction. In short, you will be allowed to make chemistry happen with your own hands (protected by gloves), and right before your eyes (or more precisely, goggles).

The experiments in this manual were selected such that the concepts they cover are not buried under complicated laboratory techniques. Most of them involve mixing solutions and observing the outcome. Nevertheless, the experiments are progressively more challenging.

On the first day we will visit chemical equilibrium. We will study the formation of different coordination compounds of nickel, analyze how temperature affects the coordination chemistry of cobalt, and study the solubility equilibrium of several silver compounds. This will be followed by a practical application, the preparation of a black and white Polaroid negative.

On the second day we will focus on electrochemistry. Several processes that involve electron transfer reactions, like plating, corrosion, and oxidation of sugars will be examined along with the preparation of a cyanotype print (from the previously prepared negative).

On the third day, we will study the kinetic mechanism of the reaction between potassium iodide and potassium persulfate, a.k.a. the Iodine Clock Reaction.

Finally, we will take a look at a couple of organic compounds with interesting properties, polymers and dyes, by synthesizing Nylon 6,10 (a commercial polymer) and Methyl Orange (a common azo-dye and acid-base indicator).

All these experiments involve concepts that you have already studied in either 5.111, 5.112, 3.091, or your high-school chemistry class. Hopefully, Chemistry 5.302 will serve to strengthen and broaden your understanding of the concepts studied in the aforementioned courses.

Welcome again, and thanks for joining us in this IAP experience.




SeS # Topics
1 Chemical Equilibrium

Coordination Chemistry: Nickel Complexes

Solubility Equilibrium: Precipitates and Complexes of Silver (I)

Equilibrium and Temperature: Complexes of Cobalt (II)

Application of Solubility Equilibria: Photography
2 Redox Chemistry

Tollen's Test for Aldehydes and Ketones (a.k.a. The Silver Mirror)

The Copper Mirror

Oxidation States of Vanadium: Reduction of V5+ to V2+


Photography: Cyanotypes
3 Chemical Kinetics

The Iodine Clock Reaction
4 Organic Chemistry: Compounds with Interesting Properties

Polymers: Nylon 6-10

Dyes: Methyl Orange   Tell A Friend