It wasn’t until Dr. Derek Hogan had asked how to work a non-disposable pipette did I realize that it had been years since the last time I touched one. It was a reality check of how little I remembered being in a lab. I made A’s in my bio and chem labs but that didn’t mean anything since it was four years ago and I plan on teaching my own students in a lab. My mini panic attack (while not unfounded) was unnecessary because after touring the lab with Dr. Hogan; it was easy to feel at ease in the lab again.
He re-introduced me on how to work a pipette and explained how important it was to be careful with them because if not done right the re-calibration of one could take not only time (had to be shipped off) but a lot of money as well. After a while I wasn’t scared to touch one as much and was reassured that all pipettes were unique and some worked differently from others.
Dr. Hogan also explained how the storage place was really important. Not only to keep things clean but also for safety reasons. For example, it’s easier to keep track of what is needed, like gloves for example, and it’s imperative that everyone wears the right equipment and the right size.
Dr. Hogan also re-drilled the important of cleanliness. He explained how dangerous it was if any left over materials were left out or if crumbs of an element were left on the counter. It would be the next person or yourself in danger if something reacted together or acid was left spilled, etc.
I managed to see things I’ve only read about before as I watched them create gels for them to manipulate DNA on them. While the student workers reacted like it was an everyday task (which it probably was to them) I found myself fascinated with the fact that they strip down DNA, try to find the missing pieces, and use super computers to crunch the numbers to fill the gaps. Dr. Derek never failed to point out that technology has come so far and only continues to grow in enormous speeds.
Some of my favorite equipment was the shaker and the purifier. The shaker because it was pretty cool to watch and the purifier because at the time the hot water was coming out brown in the sink, but through the purifier it looked crystal clear.
I learned a lot more during the tour, mostly lab safety and how expensive lab equipment can be. But the important lesson I learned was to relearn things if I haven’t done them in a while. I don’t want my kids to see me struggling with something they are trusting me to teach them so it’s important for me to practice beforehand what I do in the classroom.