Saturday, July 19, 2008

Usable Lab Tools

I had to use a thumb-actuated pipette like the one pictured above (left) a little bit (less than 2 hours total) in college. I don't remember it being particularly annoying, but I do remember it not working all that well. The Ergopip (right) looks much more comfortable to use and is actuated by a user's fingers.

This makes me wonder if the entire chemistry lab experience could be made easier and more accessible if lab tools (such as titration tubes, graduated cylinders, Bunsen burners, etc.) were easier to use. Not just physically (i.e. ergonomically), but also cognitively. In high school and in college, I remember almost always having a tricky time using the equipment, which inevitably slowed my progress down, which in turn made me frustrated that my classmates were moving through the lab exercise while I struggled to get the equipment set up. Maybe I would have (1) enjoyed chemistry more and (2) learned more about chemistry if I could have actually appreciated the technical content of lab exercises instead of trying to become a master at shutting off the titration valve at just the right time.

Ergopip information via Medgadget.

Image on left from here, image on right from here.

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