Labs at Dartmouth!
Coming to college, one of the biggest fears I had was taking STEM courses with a lab component. Despite this, I decided to take a general chemistry class (CHEM 5) my first term, which has a huge—I mean huge—time-consuming lab component. And I wanted to share my experience with taking it!
CHEM 5 has a separate lab class period that is around 4-hours. Seems scary right? Well, in reality, our lab period only lasts around 2-3 hours, with each week entails another challenging yet exciting experiment topic. Also, since Dartmouth's quarter lasts for around 10 weeks, and two weeks are dedicated to adjusting to classes (the first week) and taking final examinations (the last week), there are about 8 labs total.
Every week, the lab takes place either on Monday / Tuesday, depending on your schedule. And, we are given a data analysis assignment that encompasses what we covered during the experiment, which is due the same week on Friday or Saturday. Personally, I never felt stressed whilst undergoing data analysis, as my laboratory TA (different from my chem class TA!) was always there to answer questions through both email and text. Many may think a lab component is unnecessary for actually grasping the respective concepts, I honestly thought the experiment & following assignments were very helpful in helping me understand and supplemented my knowledge.
As a pre-medical student, I most likely have to take lab classes all throughout my Dartmouth career—from organic chemistry next year to biology foundations courses. Next term, I'm taking General Physics II (PHYS 4), which also has a lab that pertains to topics within the fundamental laws and phenomena of electricity, magnetism, and light, including quantum mechanical concepts. I'm ready to take on another challenge!