Compounds in action


Helena Zakher (11) pours 50 mL of six moles of sodium hydroxide while Rachel Streck (11) watches. Zakher and Streck were lab partners since the beginning of the year.

Cami Wallace, Author

For seventh hour matrix on March 31, students of Mr. David Harnish, Science, participated in a soaps and detergents lab to further their understanding of organic functional groups.

“The lab is related to class because in this semester, students will be learning about esters and acids and what is called a saponification reaction. It relates to the reactions discussed in organic chemistry,” Mr. Harnish said.

For each matrix, Mr. Harnish believes in giving students the opportunity to learn the material in a deeper way with labs.

“My philosophy is that it’s important for students to, as much as possible, experience what we cover in theory and lecture in the lab so they can connect lecture to the real world. Specifically, the purpose of this lab is to allow students to produce or synthesize two related items, soap and detergent, to understand the differences in their chemistry and how they react differently with hard water and metal ions,” Mr. Harnish said.

One of Mr. Harnish’s students, Victoria Ross (11), believed his philosophy was carried out with the lab.

“[Our class] took sodium hydroxide and we combined it with phenolphthalein and hydrosulfuric acid to turn it into detergent. A lot of heat was created and the reaction was fizzing and steaming. It was really cool,” Ross said.