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STEM Education Poetry

Cataloging Contents

“Beakers and 
Test tubes and
Funnels and 
Stir rods;
Pipettes and
Condensers and
Glassware galore.
Tongs;
Bunsen burner; 
A mortar and pestle;
Thermometer; 
Scoopula—
All in lab drawer.”

The 28 September 2020 poem used dactylic feet to catalog some of the many pieces of lab equipment used in introductory chemistry.  

“Beakers and /
Test tubes and /
Funnels and /
Stir rods; /
Pipettes and /
Condensers and /
Glassware galore.”
The first week of a lab course is typically devoted to “check-in”: ensuring that each lab student has a complete set of equipment in their lab drawer with which to complete the tasks of the upcoming academic term.  This can be an overwhelming process, as students are introduced to a wide variety of items and names!  

The tools used in lab are typically used to measure volumes of liquid reagents (as with a pipette), prepare reactant mixtures (beakers, funnels, stir rods), and observe the behavior of small samples (test tubes).  More complex syntheses or purification techniques often rely on condensers and other pieces of “glassware galore.”

“Tongs; /
Bunsen burner; /
A mortar and pestle; /
Thermometer; /
Scoopula— /
All in lab drawer.”
The wide variety of items cited here in the last few lines highlight even more of the variety of goals in a lab class.  

Some of these items are related to heating and working with heated reaction mixtures (Bunsen burners and tongs, respectively, used most typically with glassware); or monitoring heat energy flow in a chemical reaction, by monitoring temperature via a thermometer.  Others are used to prepare solid reactants for use in a reaction: a scoopula can be used to obtain materials from a reagent bottle, while a mortar and pestle can be used to grind up the solid material as finely as possible.  
Several online resources include some fantastic graphics and summaries related to these materials that I often have referenced in the first week of a lab course, as students work to ensure that “all [is] in lab drawer,” preparing for the upcoming semester.