From Motors to Chloroplasts... My Week through Lab
For a lot of STEM classes, there is an extra component in addition to regularly scheduled classes. Once a week, you have lab, which varies in length, activity, and rigor based on the specific class. Here’s a little about what I did this week in lab:
Monday night: Constructing a motor
In my physics lab, which is 7-10 pm on Mondays, my partner and I assembled a working electric motor out of simple materials including a power supply, baseboard, neodymium disk, and wire. Our task was to design the motor in such a way that the torque on it was always in the same direction, which would allow it to spin. We also explored a demo that involved dropping a magnet down a copper tube and watching it slowly fall through, partially levitating on its way down due to induced current.
Tuesday night: Investigating Photosynthesis
The following day, I have biology lab from 6:30-10:30 pm on Tuesdays. That might sound scary, both the fact that it’s at night and four hours long, but it seldom takes the whole four hours, and I actually like having lab at night. Since I tend to feel more worn-out anyways at night, I feel like I have more time freed up in the afternoon to finish my work. This week, our research question focused on the rate of the Hill Reaction, which is part of the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis.
Our TA, also a graduate student, gave a brief lecture at the start, walking us through our objectives and the procedure. Along with an undergraduate TA, he answers our questions and checks up on our groups. My group includes two other sophomores, and we joke that biology lab is the highlight of our week because we always end up laughing about slipups we make. After lab is done, we usually have a week to finish the lab summary assignment, which involves creating graphs and tables with the data gathered and answering questions about the methodology and results.