Discovering unknown chemical compounds

Written by Dion Deguzman, Staff Writer

At the end of every school year Mr.Morgan conducts a final lab where you need to identify an unknown chemical.

After an entire year of anxiety about this final lab it is just about coming to an end. Trying to find an unknown chemical with the use of multiple tests. Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as it sounded when Mr. Morgan would mention the final lab. It felt really nice to be able to have full control over just about every part of the lab. Luckily, I had three wonderful ladies at my side whenever I needed them; senior Saran Keita and juniors Keila Chavarria and Mhya Kiyaani.

It took about two weeks to prepare for the final lab. These two weeks included rigorous testing where you had to find the right balance of precision and speed. Not to mention, you hoped all your test tubes and equipment wasn’t contaminated before you used it.

5 groups of cations, which are positively charged atoms, with about 5 elements in each. Each group had a test to confirm which group it belonged in, as well as a test to confirm which element in the group it actually was. Simple test such as pouring one solution into another, waiting to see if it changed color to difficult test where you had to focus a fire onto a coal and hope you don’t under heat or overheat it.

Once you found your cation, you then moved to the negatively charged atom, the anion. This was a little more difficult as we also had to learn how to separate the cation from the anion, which tested my patience. Once separation was accomplished you were then lead into tests that could actually harm you if you mess up. Things like burning your skin off with chemicals or making the room smell like rotten eggs.

The day we picked our unknown was the most nerve wracking moment of that entire lab. Mr.Morgan then prompted to tell us if we had an easy or hard chemical. E-16 is the chemical I chose. I chose it just because I thought the color was pretty honestly. To hear Morgan say it was an easy chemical lifted this weight off my shoulders. Until he ended class saying he was just joking and he really didn’t know if any of the chemicals were easy or hard. I cried a little on the inside, but it’s fine.

That entire week was filled with stress, tears, and nerves. I never thought the day would come when I couldn’t wait to go back into the lab. After every day I wanted to hop right back into the lab and hope for the best. Luckily my cation was an easy find, Mercury. My anion on the other hand was the most difficult and frustrating part. I got mixed results, sometimes my solution looked more yellow, brown, or even white. As of right now I’m not very sure what my anion is and I’m hoping for the best when I turn in my write up.

After all this stress, I’m now laying in my bed thankful for everything Morgan has done for our class. We have the biggest class where there are no empty seats and he manages to handle his messed up smart board and us with ease. The unknown chemical lab taught me that I need to trust and have confidence in myself when making a decision. That seems really deep, but after every test I just have to trust myself and all the tests I ran. A lot of students’ grade in that classes depend on this lab and you have two chances to tell him what your chemical is. With the help of the three girls and Morgan along the way I wouldn’t of had asked for a better support system. Hopefully I guessed the right chemical.

Update: Nope, but hey at least I was half right.