Trust the Esterification Process

Trust the esterification process, but do your research first.

From the experience that I had, I insist that researchers must be knowledgeable and prepared before having a first-hand experience in a laboratory activity. Honestly speaking, my group mates and I (Supernovas!!) lacked background information regarding esterification. I had quite a difficult time understanding the not-so-simple-instructions-at-first-sight and I was overwhelmed by the three (3) acids and five (5) alcohols introduced to us.

But thank God my group mates are the kind of researchers who are resourceful, tactful, willing, collaborative, and inquisitive. They are the ones who would remain calm and see the bright side of every particular challenge in a quest.  So as the lead investigator of the group, I delegated the tasks and made sure that everyone was aware of the process and the results. Bjorn Abueg, the monitor, was assigned in gathering and measuring alcohols; while Qiara Gutierrez, the facilitator, was assigned with the acids. Sofia Torrano, the secretary, was the one in-charge of the labeling, boiling, and jutting down of notes. As a group, we determined the kind of smell produced by each ester. From there, I learned about the process of Fischer Esterification – a reaction of an organic/inorganic acids and alcohol to create water and esters of different aromas.

Moreover, I also learned to heat up the hot plate beforehand as well as to use the glass jars efficiently by putting several test tubes together in one boiling process. By doing so, could save time. I realized from there that learning science requires both the theoretical knowledge and the practical skills. Sure, I know about the functional groups and the VSEPR Theory, but do I know how I could apply them? Indeed, laboratory activities transform a passive classroom environment to one that is interactive. It provides a learning experience to students, helping us see the relevance of science to our surroundings and to our everyday life. It enhances our minds to understand complex and ambiguous concepts, engaging ourselves to scientific inquiry.

Although we failed to meet the objectives of synthesizing fifteen (15) different esters, we have learned a lot as a group and as individual researchers. Laboratory activities do have challenges, but it also has opportunities. Just like supernovas, we can create!

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