Week 3: Labs

Edie L -

Acetaminophen pills
Ibuprofen bottle and pills
L-lysine bottle and pills
Picture of the graph
A very bad picture of the acetaminophen graph the spectrometer came up with.

Hi guys!

I just completed the in-person safety training. Most of it was topics that we were taught in school. One thing I did learn was that there are different kinds of fire extinguishers. I had no idea that you can tell the difference between each one. The regular one will just have a tube, while a CO2 fire extinguisher will have a huge nozzle. Fire extinguishers that put out chemical fires will look completely different. I wish I had a picture, but I forgot to take one. Most of the topics I learned were taught in school. For example, the eye wash and shower as well as evacuations and where to go. The lesson also briefly went into CPR and how to use an AED which I already knew about. I did get to see an actual AED, and the instructor even turned it on, and showed me the screen. That was pretty cool.

On Wednesday, I got my first experience in the lab! It was great! I was told to bring a composition notebook which would be my lab book. Unfortunately, I can’t keep it, and I need to leave it there when I am done with this project, but luckily I can bring it home for now, and keep making notes in it. On the first day of the lab, we did some scans of three different types of medicine that you can find at home; Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and L-Lysine. I got to wear a lab coat and safety glasses. I also got to crush the little pills into powder. That was fun. After they were crushed into powder, I had to fold a small square piece of paper-like to funnel it into a labeled vial. After that came the scanning. It took a while and we had some technical difficulties with the first machine we used. Every time we tried to look up what it thought the sample was, there was an error. We didn’t know what was wrong with it, so we ended up using a different machine. This one was better at analyzing the samples, and coming up with close matches.

On Thursday, I came back in to play with the data from the day before. We wanted to see if we could treat the data to make the matches closer. For example, when we scanned Tylenol, the Spectrometer identified there was acetamin, but it wasn’t the highest on the ranking. Acetamin was only ranked fourth. We wanted it to be the first thing that came up. I played with the data, and only got more confused. When I smoothed it out, Acetamin was number 1. I had no idea how smoothing helped, but it did, sometimes. I tried baseline correction, but it did absolutely nothing. I think I am doing it wrong. I guess I will have to look into that.

Later, I found out that smoothing reduces the amount of noise on the Spectrometer. This allows it to better look at the sample. Also baseline correction helps restore the baseline to an ideal place. I think I am doing that part wrong because every time I did baseline correction, nothing happened, or I got something completely different.

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    Hi Edie! It sounds like you had a super exciting week. Will most of the samples you work with be medications that are generally accessible, or will you also be working with controlled substances? I can’t wait to see what methods you develop for getting more accurate readings!
    Hey Edie! That is so exciting that you were able to work in a lab setting! I wonder why you are not allowed to bring your notebook home after the project is finished. Is there a certain reason for that, like using classified information or something like that? Please stay safe in the lab!
    Hi Edie! Congratulations on finishing your lab training. I am curious how smoothing out the Acetamin helped so much. Going from fourth to first seems like a pretty drastic change. Is there something I am missing?
    Heya Edie, it's wonderful that you began working in the lab! Will you be working with any other notable chemicals or will it just be down to standard over the counter medication?
    Hi Maddie! Most of my sample will be from easily accessible medications that would not pose a risk to anyone. We wanted to make the lab completely safe and easy.
    Hi Zoey! I am not able to bring my lab notebook home because it just needs to stay in the lab. I was told that any lab I go to will have the same rule. I'm pretty sure part of the reason is that it was in a lab where everything is contaminated.
    Hi Payton! I am not sure how it worked so well. From what I was able to find out smoothing just smoothes out the graph and make it a little more clear.

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