Laboratory classes in VŠCHT
When I walked past the open doors of some laboratory rooms during the first semester, I was slowing down and holding my breath… Busy and focused students in lab coats, glitter of chemical dishes, buzzing noise of lab equipment, specific smells in the air and realisation that you are about to move from theory to practice – all of this will certainly excite any first year student at VŠCHT.
As for majority of students, the first laboratory classes for me were LACh I (Laboratory of inorganic chemistry 1). 3 streams (so-called turnus) of students pass through LACh during one semester. Each turnus runs for 5 weeks. Students spend one day a week (from 8.00 to 18.00) in the laboratory.
You can never predict who will be your tutor or lab assistant. We were given the keys to our lab desks and to the lockers outside. We also received a schedule plan of our laboratory classes (LACH1-program-cz). This was followed by checking the dishes on the desks, repeating safety procedures and familiarising ourselves with the equipment.
Like all subsequent laboratory classes, it started with a test. Entrance tests consisted of two parts — theory and calculations. Failure to write one of the parts with a sufficient number of points meant leaving the laboratory room, with the possibility to register this subject for revision in a year’s time. We had just one attempt for each test. Thus, it was very stressful. And unfortunately, not all students managed to get to the end.
The final test was done outside the laboratory and, unlike the entrance tests, we were allowed to have 3 attempts.
Once the theoretical knowledge was verified, it was possible to start the practical part. One of the strict rules is no teamwork. You can (and should!) prepare for each lab class at home. Now I can confidently say that the time spent in the laboratory classes was the most valuable experience thanks to all the independent work and a constant feeling of responsibility.
With constant preparation, experimentation, submitting products and protocols, 5 weeks just flew by.
At the end of the last lab day we had to clean up our work stations. We had to pay for all broken equipment. After that the laboratory assistant overlooks the final test.