Perhaps I Did Inhale Too Many Chemicals

Talk about a research experience.

This Saturday morning was unlike any other. All of us dressed in lab coats, wearing protective goggles, and holding test tubes in our gloved hands…. it was impossible not to feel like professional researchers (for me, at least). The tranquility of the early morning was shattered only by the clinking of glassware and by the hushed chatter of stressed students.

For the IB Group 4 Project, I had to investigate the quality of the water at our school. It wasn’t exactly a topic I wanted, but since another group took “energy drinks,” I had to settle with water. The procedure my team and I found seemed impossibly complicated. We utilized over 20 beakers and 10 different chemicals. Our lab table looked more like a piece of mosaic art. But I felt so proud as I strutted down the hallways in my “lab researcher” gear, with a clear purpose in mind. Yes, we were only working with water and common chemicals, and to others this probably seemed like just another tedious chemistry project that needed to be finished. But I felt like I was given a mission – a mission to find any traces of metals, carbonates, or other substances in the water.

The centrifuge whirled around and around becoming nothing more than a yellowish blur. This was the fifth...

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