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Introduction to Chemistry

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The School Chemistry Laboratory

Chemistry is studied mainly in a science room called a school chemistry laboratory.

The room is better ventilated than normal classroom. It has electricity, gas and water taps.

A school chemistry laboratory has a qualified professional who is called Laboratory technician/assistant.

All students using a school chemistry laboratory must consult the Laboratory technician/assistant for all their laboratory work. A school chemistry laboratory has chemicals and apparatus.

A chemical is a substance whose composition is known. All chemical are thus labeled as they are. This is because whereas physically a substance may appear similar, chemically they may be different.

All Chemicals which are not labeled should never be used. Some chemicals are toxic/poisonous, explosive, corrosive, caustic, irritants, flammable, oxidizing, carcinogenic, or radioactive.

Care should always be taken when handling any chemical which have any of the above characteristic properties.

Common school chemistry laboratory chemicals include:

(i) Distilled water

(ii) Concentrated mineral acid which are very corrosive (on contact with skin they cause painful open wounds)

(iii) Concentrated alkali/bases which are caustic (on contact with skin they cause painful blisters)

(iv) Very many types of salts

The following safety guideline rules should be followed by chemistry laboratory users:

(i) Enter the laboratory with permission in an orderly manner without rushing/pushing/scrabbling.

(ii) Do not try unauthorized experiments. They may produce flammable, explosive or toxic substances that affect your health.

(iii) Do not taste any chemical in the laboratory. They may be poisonous.

(iv) Waft gas fumes to your nose with your palm. Do not inhale/smell gases directly. They may be highly poisonous/toxic.

(v) Boil substances with mouth of the test tube facing away from others and yourself. Boiling liquids spurt out portions of the hot liquid. Products of heating solids may be a highly poisonous/toxic gas.

(vi) Wash with lots of water any skin contact with chemicals immediately. Report immediately to a teacher/laboratory technician any irritation, cut, burn, bruise or feelings arising from laboratory work.

(vii) Read and follow safety instructions. All experiments that evolve/produce poisonous gases should be done in the open or in a fume chamber.

(viii )Clean your laboratory work station after use. Wash your hand before leaving the chemistry laboratory.

(ix) In case of fire, remain calm, switch of the source of fuel-gas tap. Leave the laboratory through the emergency door. Use fire extinguishers near the chemistry laboratory to put of medium fires. Leave strong fires wholly to professional fire fighters.

(x) Do not carry unauthorized item from a chemistry laboratory. An apparator /apparatus are scientific tools/equipment used in performing scientific experiments.

The conventional apparator used in performing scientific experiments is called standard apparator/apparatus. If the conventional standard apparator/apparatus is not available, an improvised apparator/apparatus may be used in performing scientific experiments.

An improvised apparator/apparatus is one used in performing a scientific experiment for a standard apparator/apparatus.

Most standard apparatus in a school chemistry laboratory are made of glass because:

(i)Glass is transparent and thus reactions /interactions inside are clearly visible from outside

(ii) Glass is comparatively cheaper which reduces cost of equipping the school chemistry laboratory

(iii) Glass is comparatively easy

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