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Goal: You will be given 2.00 grams of impure naphthalene (mothballs!). Your job is to purify the naphthalene by recrystallization without losing a significant amount of your sample!

Part of MIT OpenCourseWare (http://ocw.mit.edu) course "Chemistry Lab Techniques", these labs were designed to give first year MIT students practical hands-on introduction to the basic techniques of experimental chemistry in a laboratory setting. Labs bring science concepts alive as students observe, practice, and experiment with problems. High school science teachers and advanced high school students will find these materials useful. The MIT site has additional related videos and readings.

Sarah A. Tabacco, Chemistry Lab Techniques, Fall 2004. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCouseWare), http://ocw.mit.edu (Accessed July 2008). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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The experiments described in these materials are potentially hazardous and require a high level of safety training, special facilities and equipment, and supervision by appropriate individuals. You bear the sole responsibility, liability, and risk for the implementation of such safety procedures and measures. MIT shall have no responsibility, liability, or risk for the content or implementation of any of the material presented.

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This resource is part of the MIT - Chemistry Laboratory Techniques collection.


  • Science > General
  • Science > Chemistry

Education Levels:

  • Grade 11
  • Grade 12


chemistry lab MIT opencourseware labs chemistry laboratory techniques naphthalene (mothballs) purify the naphthalene by recrystallization



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Update Standards?

SCI.10-12.1.A: Science

demonstrate safe practices during laboratory and field investigations, including the appropriate use of safety showers, eyewash fountains, safety goggles, and fire extinguishers;

SCI.10-12.2.A: Science

know the definition of science and understand that it has limitations, as specified in subsection (b)(2) of this section;

SCI.10-12.2.B: Science

know that scientific hypotheses are tentative and testable statements that must be capable of being supported or not supported by observational evidence. Hypotheses of durable explanatory power which have been tested over a wide variety of conditions are incorporated into theories;

SCI.10-12.2.D: Science

distinguish between scientific hypotheses and scientific theories;

SCI.10-12.2.E: Science

plan and implement investigative procedures, including asking questions, formulating testable hypotheses, and selecting equipment and technology, including graphing calculators, computers and probes, sufficient scientific glassware such as beakers, Erlenmeyer flasks, pipettes, graduated cylinders, volumetric flasks, safety goggles, and burettes, electronic balances, and an adequate supply of consumable chemicals;

SCI.10-12.2.F: Science

collect data and make measurements with accuracy and precision;

SCI.10-12.2.G: Science

express and manipulate chemical quantities using scientific conventions and mathematical procedures, including dimensional analysis, scientific notation, and significant figures;

SCI.10-12.2.H: Science

organize, analyze, evaluate, make inferences, and predict trends from data; and

SCI.10-12.2.I: Science

communicate valid conclusions supported by the data through methods such as lab reports, labeled drawings, graphs, journals, summaries, oral reports, and technology-based reports.

SCI.10-12.3.A: Science

in all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking by the student;

SCI.10-12.3.B: Science

communicate and apply scientific information extracted from various sources such as current events, news reports, published journal articles, and marketing materials;
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