Chemistry is a branch of science that deals with the study of structure, composition and properties of matter. Chemistry as an experimental subject relies on:
- Careful handling of apparatus
- Carrying out chemical tests or chemical analysis
- Making critical observation
- Critical reporting of observations
- Drawing appropriate conclusions from observations
Chemistry as a practical science tries to answer the following question.
What are materials made up of?
How is matter formed?
How does matter behave?
Why does matter behave the way it does?
There are quite a number of branches of chemistry such as Organic chemistry, Physical chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry and Analytical chemistry.
Importance of chemistry
- The knowledge of chemistry makes us to understand the properties of substances and handle these substances with great care. Some may be poisonous, corrosive, toxic etc.
- Makes us to understand how to extract substances from the earth and use them e.g. gold, copper etc.
- Chemistry knowledge opens up way to science professional courses such as medicine, education and pharmacy.
- The knowledge of chemistry makes us to know the effects of chemicals on the environment and subsequently puts us in position to protect our environment.
- Broad knowledge in chemistry puts us in better positions to contribute towards more advancement in science and technology for better and quality human life.
- The knowledge of chemistry is relevant in many ways such as making of food supplements, distillation of fuel, making of plastics, making cosmetics and dental creams, manufacture of soap and detergents, making insecticides and herbicides.etc.
A laboratory is a special place with special equipment’s where scientific investigations or experiments are carried out. The laboratory is a place of adventure and discovery; in fact some of the most exciting events in the history of science have taken place in laboratories e.g. the discovery of oxygen.
When experiments are carried out in the laboratory, chemical materials and are used.
Chemicals are substances usually in solid or liquid forms that are consumed during reactions. They get used up in reactions during the course of an experiment. E.g. Sodium hydroxide and Hydrochloric acid.
Apparatus are scientific tools that are used in carrying out scientific experiments. They are not used up or consumed and can be used repeatedly. E.g. Beaker.
Laboratory safety rules
- Do not enter the laboratory without permission.
- Perform only the experiments assigned by the teacher.
- Learn at once the location and operation of fire extinguishers and other first aid materials.
- No equipment should be used until proper instructions are received from the teacher and you have proven proficiency.
- Avoid unnecessary movements in the laboratory.
- Do not play about with electrical or gas devices.
- Handle apparatus with great care.
- In case of accidents such as burns, cuts or splash of chemicals, wash with plenty of water and report to the teacher or laboratory technician.
- Do not taste or smell gases continuously.
- Do not eat or drink anything in the laboratory.
- When heating using boiling tubes or test tubes, do not turn the open end towards yourself or any one.
- Whenever in the laboratory, use clean and dry apparatus.
- Never use faulty equipment’s. Check and make sure that the devices you are given are not damaged.
- Never dispose off solid material into sinks instead throw them in solid waste containers or pits.
- Always make sure that you follow instructions that are given and read labels on bottles making sure that you use correct reagents.
- Do not leave reagent bottles open. As soon as you finish using a bottle, put its stopper and return it to its right position.
- Do not keep your work space too congested.
Simple laboratory equipment’s or apparatus
In order to carry out experiments in the laboratory, we need special tools such as measuring device. Such a tool is referred to as an apparatus.