General Information

 OWL instructions


You must read and sign the lab safety agreement on-line before your first lab class.

Go to and click on the link at the bottom right-hand side.


Required for the course (bring to your first laboratory class)                                        

The Chemistry 161 Laboratory Manual                                              You may also find useful

Approved safety goggles (available in Room 185)                                      an electronic calculator, a ruler, lab coat

OWL Access Code for CEM 161


Note that no shorts or open-toed shoes may be worn in the lab.  Failure to wear safety goggles or appropriate clothing will result in immediate dismissal from lab and a grade of zero on that day’s experiment.


CEM 161 will meet every Tuesday and Thursday 11:00am - 1:50pm (Section 101) or 2:00pm - 4:50pm (Section 102) in room 103 Chemistry.


CEM 161 Instructors                               Amy Pollock & Joseph Ward

                                                                  email: (please put CEM 161 in the subject line)

                                                               Office Hours:  by appointment only


Manager of the Teaching Laboratories   Todd Burkhart; Room 185 Chemistry



General Chemistry Program Manager     Wendy Whitford; Room 185 Chemistry; tel 5-9715 ext 335



CEM 161 web site                                       then go to course webpage (lower right corner),

                                                               then General Chemistry, then CEM 161.


Cemscores web site                       

                                                               Use this site to see your graded experiment reports and OWL problem set                                                                                  scores.  You can also access the site through the CEM 161 website.


OWL© problem sets web site               

                                                                                 Log in at this site using the access code you purchased.


The first laboratory class

CEM 161 will begin on Tuesday, May 13th. For your first class, you will need to purchase the laboratory manual from one of the bookstores or Room 185 Chemistry. For all experiments in CEM 161 you must wear approved safety goggles (available from Room 185 Chemistry) and be dressed appropriately. In preparation for your first class read over the introduction and the first experiment in your lab manual.


Checking into your lab

After an introduction to the course, your instructor will ask you to check your lab equipment. Make sure that you have all the equipment listed on the inventory sheet.  Get broken or unacceptable equipment replaced. At the end of the semester you will have to pay for any missing or broken equipment.


If you miss your first lab class

If you will miss your first class, you must check in at the General Chemistry Office (Room 185 Chemistry; tel 5-9715 ext 335; email: before the first lab meets. Otherwise your place in the laboratory might be given to another student. If you miss the first experiment, you may do the experiment concurrently with the second experiment. Inform your instructor at your second class if you wish to do this.



There is no text for this course; the laboratory manual serves as both your text and your lab notebook.  Data gathered during each experiment must be entered directly into this manual in ink on the appropriate data sheet.  All experiments must be completed and turned in to your instructor before leaving the laboratory class on the day the experiment is performed.  Late lab reports will not be accepted.  Graded lab reports can be viewed using the cemscores website.


Prelab homework (OWL© Problem Sets)

It is important that you read over each experiment before coming to class.  Before each class, from the second experiment through the end of the course, you must complete a personalized problem set concerning the upcoming experiment.   These problems will be administered under the OWL© system (  Each OWL© set is worth 4 points.  You will drop your lowest OWL© score at the end of the semester.  Note that these problem sets are different from the CEM 141 OWL Problem Sets and require a separate OWL access code (approximately $5).

Your answers to the questions are due before 7:30 am on the Tuesday and Thursday of each week (see the attached calendar). It is your responsibility to make sure that you answer the questions before the deadline.  The first set is due Thursday, May 14th.

There are no extensions or make-ups offered for missed OWL© problem sets.  If you have problems with the OWL© system, get help before the deadline!

You must score at least 15/36 on these problem sets in order to pass the course.


Help Room

Your laboratory instructor will arrange with you the most convenient time to hold office hours in the Chemistry Help Room (room 81/83 Chemistry).  You are encouraged to ask your instructor questions during the lab class.


Absence from class

There are no make-up labs for CEM 161.  You are allowed to miss two laboratory classes for any reason; for example, you may be sick, it may be a religious holiday, or you may have to return home for some reason. Your grade in the class is based therefore on your best 11 scores for the 13 experiments (110 points). If you miss a third class, you will receive a score of 0 (zero) for that experiment. If you miss a fourth class, your grade in the course will be 0.0. Note that you must check in your equipment at the end of the last lab so it is not a good idea to miss that lab. Failure to check in your equipment before the end of your scheduled laboratory section will result in a fee of $25 plus the cost of any broken or missing equipment.  You are allowed to miss only one OWL© problem set. Further prelab problem sets cannot be excused. Your total score for the prelab problem sets is based on your 9 best scores (36 points).


Changing sections or dropping the class

If you change sections, either during drops and adds or later, you must check out of your original lab and check in to your new section.  If you drop the class you must check in your equipment or you will be charged for the check in ($25 plus any breakages).



The grade you receive in this class will be based upon the accuracy and precision of your experiments and your OWL problem sets.  The total number of points possible for the course is 146.

         Nine best OWL sets    36 points                      Eleven best experiment scores    110 points

In order to ensure equality of grading between the different instructors in the course, the score out of 110 for which your instructor is responsible will be normalized so that the mean for each instructor is the same.  The OWL scores will not be normalized.  The grade you receive in the course will be based upon your normalized experiment total and your OWL score.  The grade scale shown below will be used to determine your course grade after normalization.

Normalized Points                ³       86              95              104            113            122            131            140

Grade                                            1.0             1.5                2.0             2.5             3.0             3.5             4.0


You will receive a grade of zero in this course if

·               you earn fewer than 86 total points, or

·               you earn fewer than 15 OWL problem set points, or

·           you miss four or more experiments