Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lab Demonstrator's Basic Competence Appears as Wizardry to First-Year Undergraduates

C&EN Onion European Chemical Sciences Correspondent Fluorogrol Reports

St. Andrews, UK

Second-year graduate student and part-time teaching lab demonstrator Karen Davies, 23, was hailed as "God-like" by breathless, wide-eyed undergraduates after performing a routine crystallization. Students were left speechless by Davies' ability to coax the readily crystallizable product out of solution using only a glass rod and, according to one onlooker, "the power of her mind."

Davies attempted to play down the incident, explaining, "We give them something dead simple for the first practical. They make this dicarboxylic acid that's just about the easiest thing in the world to crystallize. But they never manage it, because they're too impatient or ham-fisted or something. So I was showing them how to promote crystallization by scratching the flask with a stirring rod when they all flipped out."

However, her students remained awestruck by what they witnessed. David McLean, 18, spoke exclusively to C&EN Onion: "It was wild. She had this flask of liquid, like water or mercury or whatever, and she touched it with this, like, wand thing and bang, white solid from nowhere. It was some Harry Potter shit, dude."


  1. NEVER give an undergraduate a glass stirring rod!! They will scratch too hard (because brute force always works, right?), break the rod, and slice their hand open. Have them use a metal spatula instead.

    1. Are you kidding? Take it as an opportunity to show them how to properly use it rather than keep it a forbidden fruit.