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LAB EXERCISE 2: AN EXPERIMENT IN QUANTITATIVE TECHNIQUES

Objectives
1. To learn to use various common laboratory glassware and balances.
2. To investigate the accuracy and precision of different glassware.
3. To investigate the effect of glassware capacity on accuracy of measurement.
4. To investigate the effect of multiple measurements on accuracy.

Equipment and Materials


50 mL Erlenmyer flask 50 mL Volumetric flask
50 mL Buret (with clamp and stand) 25 mL pipette and pump
Beakers (one 50 mL and two 100 mL) Thermometer
Measuring cylinders (100 mL, 50 mL, 25 mL) Balance

Below are images of the glassware and the accessories you will be working with for the exercises in this
lab. Use it to guide you in choosing the indicated glassware for the procedures that follow.

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Procedures
Exercise I
The type of glassware chosen for a particular measurement depends on how accurate the required volume needs
to be. This exercise allows students to look at both the accuracy and precision of some common glassware
found in the lab. Students will measure a volume of water using different glassware then compare the measured
volume to a calculated volume. The calculated volume is assumed to be the “true” or “actual” volume; hence,
the proximity of the values for the measured and calculated volumes of water is an indication of the
instrument’s accuracy. Students will then compare class data for two types of glassware. Since all the students
in the lab are using the same glassware, it is expected that it is akin to obtaining repeated measurements for the
same instrument. The proximity of the class values is therefore an indication of the precision of the glassware
being used.

1. Obtain two 100 mL beakers. One will hold your stock volume of water – label it “stock.” The second
will be used to weigh water measured using the glassware specified in step 2, label it “weighing.” After
each weighting, the water is returned to the original “stock” beaker.
2. Obtain the following glassware, all with 50 mL capacity
a. Beaker
b. Erlenmyer flask
c. Measuring cylinder
d. Buret (with clamp and stand)
e. Volumetric flask
3. Examine your glassware and identify the accuracy of each by noting how many decimal places you can
record based on the volume division marked on the glass. (E.g. if a glassware has divisions of 10 mL,
you can record volumes to the nearest 1 mL; if it has divisions of 1 mL, you can record volumes up to
the nearest 0.1 mL). Whenever recording volumes you need to record to the correct number of decimal
places based on the accuracy of the glassware.
4. Obtain approximately 60-70 mL of water in your “stock” 100 mL beaker. You will be using this water
for the measurements below. Return measured water to this stock beaker after each weighing.
5. Preweigh the “weighing” beaker and record the value. Remember, you will be using this beaker for all
weight measurements.
6. Using water from your “stock” beaker, measure 50 mL of water using the 50 mL beaker then record the
volume of water measured to the correct decimal place. Remember, for each of the five measurements in
this exercise, the theoretical volume is 50 mL; however, different glassware have different accuracies so
one glassware may be 50 mL while another may be 50.00 mL.
7. Transfer the water from the 50 mL beaker to the “weighing” beaker. Reweigh the 100 mL beaker with
water and record the mass.
8. Measure the temperature of the water and record the value.
9. Return the water to the “stock” beaker. Dry the “weighing” beaker.
10. Using water from the “stock” beaker, measure 50 mL of water using the 50 mL Erlenmyer flask then
record the volume of water measured to the correct decimal place.
11. Transfer the water from the 50 mL beaker to the “weighing” beaker. Reweigh the “weighing” with water
and record the mass.
12. Measure the temperature of the water and record the value.
13. Return the water to the “stock” beaker. Dry the “weighing” beaker.
14. Repeat steps 10-13 for the remaining glassware: the 50 mL measuring cylinder, the buret and the 50 mL
volumetric flask.
15. After completing the measurements, identify the density of the water in each case by using the recorded
water temperature and the graph provided.
16. Calculate the actual volumes of the water measured using the experimental mass and the interpolated
density of water and place the value in table 1.1 under Calculations: Water Volume.

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17. Calculate the percentage error between the actual, i.e. “calculated,” volume and the measured read
volume of water for each piece of glassware using the formula provided in the Calculations section.
18. Obtain class data for measurements made with the a) Erlenmyer flask, b) volumetric flask.

Exercise II
For any type of glassware, you will normally find a range of sizes. It is convenient to use glassware that has the
capacity to meet a certain volume need; but does using an inconvenient size affect the accuracy of
measurements? This exercise investigates the effect of using glassware with different capacities on the
measurement of the same volume.

1. Obtain 3 measuring cylinders of the following capacities:


a. 25 mL
b. 50 mL
c. 100 mL
2. Preweigh a dry 50 mL beaker and record its mass. This will be the “weighing” beaker for this exercise.
3. Measure 10 mL of water from the stock beaker from the previous exercise using the 25 mL measuring
cylinder then transfer the water to the “weighing” beaker.
4. Reweigh the beaker with water and record the value.
5. Measure the temperature of the water and record the value.
6. Return the water to the stock beaker and dry the “weighing beaker.”
7. Repeat steps 3-6 for the 50 mL and the 100 mL measuring cylinders; measuring 10 mL of water in each
case.
8. Calculate the volume of the water for each measurement using the density of water as was done in
exercise I.
9. Calculate the percentage error for each measurement.

Exercise III
Normally we take it for granted that two halves is the same as a whole and four quarters are the same as a
whole; however, is measuring half the volume twice or a quarter the volume four times the same as measuring a
volume once? Here we investigate the effect of multiple measurements on the accuracy of a given volume.

1. Obtain a 25 mL pipette and pump.


2. Preweigh a dry 50 mL beaker and record its mass. This will be the “weighing” beaker for this exercise.
(You can use the “weighing” beaker from exercise II.)
3. Measure 20 mL of water using the 25 mL pipette. (NB If you have never used a pipette pump before, ask
the lab assistant or lecturer to show you how. Make sure to practice taking up water and releasing it a
few times before starting your actual measurements. Also make sure that the top of the pipette is
properly secured in the pump’s collar to prevent water from dripping from the pipette tip.)
4. Transfer the water to the “weighing” beaker then reweigh the beaker with water and record the mass.
5. Measure and record the temperature of the water.
6. Return the water to the “stock” beaker and dry the “weighing” beaker.
7. Measure 10 mL of water using the 25 mL pipette then transfer it to the “weighing” beaker.
8. Measure an additional 10 mL and add it to the “weighing” beaker so that there are now 20 mL in the
beaker.
9. Weigh the beaker with 20 mL of water and record the mass.
10. Measure and record the temperature of the water.
11. Return the water to the “stock” beaker and dry the “weighing” beaker.
12. Measure 5 mL of water using the 25 mL pipette then add it to the beaker.
13. Repeat step 12 three more times so that a total of 20 mL of water will have been added to the beaker.
14. Weigh the beaker with water and record the mass.
15. Measure and record the temperature of the water.
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16. Calculate the actual volumes of the water measured in this exercise using the density of water as was
done in exercise I, then calculate the percentage error for each set of measurements.

Calculations.

1. You will need to calculate the actual volumes you measured in each of the exercises listed above using the
mass and density of the water. Recall that

density = mass/volume

By rearranging this formula, the volume of the liquid can be calculated using the density and the mass.

Calculated volume = mass/density

The density of water can be interpolated or extrapolated from the graph above based on the temperature of
the water. The mass will be the measured value recorded in your data table.

2. You will also need to calculate the experimental error for each of the values. Percentage error is a measure
of the difference between the actual value (the calculated volume) and the theoretical value (the measured
volume). It provides a measurement of accuracy of a value.

% error = (actual value) – (theoretical value) x 100


Theoretical value

3. You will be doing a simple statistical analysis of your class’ data. This helps you to look at the “spread” of
the data’ i.e. how close the points are together. The closer the points are together, the more precise the
measurement tool is. You will gather data from different groups then use the data to calculate the variance

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and standard deviation for the measuring device employed. These values are numerical representations of
the proximity of data points to each; smaller values indicate higher precision.

No matter how carefully executed, human limitations make it difficult for exact measurements to be made. In
fact, all the measurements you make are only approximations. In order to increase the reliability of a value,
it is therefore best to do several measurements then take an average or mean of the values.

When expressing the average of a set of values, the range of values (the highest and lowest values) is usually
included to give an indication of the variability in the values. The range only gives limited information since
it does not indicate how the numbers are distributed, they could be random or clustered. Below are two sets
of data that have the same mean but different ranges. Note that the two outlying points in set B cause the
range to be large.

Data Data Sum # values Mean range


Set (∑) (N) ∑/N
A 30 29 31 28 32 30 29 31 240 8 30 28 - 32 (30 ± 2)
B 30 40 20 32 31 30 31 26 240 8 30 20 – 40 (30± 10)

Plotting the data gives a visual image of the actual scatter of the data.

The chart on the left represents data


set A and the one on the right is data
set B. Note the two outlier points
responsible for the greater range in
data set B.

The scatter that is seen here can be expressed numerically through the variance and standard deviation
obtained by using common statistical calculations. The formulae for variance and standard deviation are
given below.

Variance = ∑(measured value for each sample – mean)2


(N-1)
Variance is the square of the sum of the differences between the measured values and the mean divided by
one less than the number of measured values.

Standard Deviation = √variance

Standard Deviation is the square root of the variance.

If values are close to one another, the variance and standard deviation are small. For the values in the table
above, the variance and standard deviation for Data Set A are 1.7 and 1.3 respectively, while those for Data
Set B are 32 and 5.6 respectively. The table below shows calculation of variance and standard deviation for
data set A.

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Measured values Measured - mean (measured – mean)2
30 0 0
29 -1 1
31 1 1
28 -2 4
32 2 4
30 0 0
29 -1 1
31 1 1
∑ = 240 ∑ = 12
N =8 NB: “ ∑ “ is the symbol
N for
-1 sum= function.
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Mean = 30 N is the numberVariance
of measured values.
= 1.7
Range =(30 ±2) Std. Dev.= 1.3

Practice Problem
You can try your hand at doing a variance and standard deviation by working out the values for data set B.

Prelab Questions:
1) Explain what gives water its cohesive properties and how this leads to formation of a meniscus.
2) Other than parallax errors, name two other common mistakes that might contribute to obtaining
erroneous values in these measurement exercises.
3) The data shown in the table on the right shows the calculated volumes in mL when 10 groups of students
measured 50.0 mL of water in a certain glassware,
calculate the following: 50.0 51.1
a. Mean 49.5 48.2
b. Range 48.3 49.6
c. Variance 50.6 50.5
d. Standard deviation 50.8 50.2

4) A student was assigned to measure 25.0 mL of water using a 50 mL measuring cylinder. The mass of
the water measured was 25.5 g. The temperature of the water was 25oC. Using the water density graph
in this handout, find the water density at this temperature and calculate the actual volume of water that
was measured. Find the percentage error for this measurement.
5) List the glassware from exercise 1 in order of least to most accurate. (If you have not used a particular
glassware before, look up its use and how accurate it usually is so you can place it in the correct position
in your list.)

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Quantitative Techniques DATA SHEET NAME:_____________________
PARTNER:_________________
DATE:_____________________
LAB SECTION:_____________

Data Table 1.1 Testing the Accuracy of Different Glassware


Glassware Volume Temp Water Mass Calculations
o
( C) Density Empty Beaker water Water % error
(g/mL) beaker + water volume
Beaker

Erlenmyer flask

Measuring cylinder

Buret

Volumetric flask

Data Table 1.2: Effect of Capacity on Accuracy


Capacity of Water Water Mass Calculations
measuring Temp. Density Empty Beaker + water Water Volume % error
o
cylinder ( C) (g/mL) beaker water
25 mL

50 mL

100 mL

Data Table 1.3 Effect of Adding Volumes on Accuracy


Sequential Water Water Mass Calculations
volume Temp. Density Empty Beaker + water Water Volume % error
added (oC) (g/mL) beaker water
20 mL (1x)

10 mL (2 x)

5 mL (4 x)

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PERCENTAGE ERROR and STANDARD DEVIATION
Collect data from your classmates for the calculated volumes measured with the beaker and measuring cylinder
then enter them into the tables below. Calculate variance and standard deviation for each set of data. NB You
can use an EXCEL sheet to do the calculations.

Data Table 1.4 Class Data for Erlenmyer Flask


Calculated Volume % error (meas. vol.– mean vol.) (meas. vol. – mean vol.)2

Sum ( ∑ ) Sum of errors ( ∑ ): ∑


Range Range of errors : N-1
# obs (N) # data values (N): Variance ∑/(N-1)
Mean(∑/N) Mean for errors:( ∑/N) Std.deviation (√var)

Data Table 1.5 Class Data for Volumetric Flask


Calculated Volume % error (meas. vol.– mean vol.) (meas. vol. – mean vol.)2

Sum ( ∑ ) Sum of errors ( ∑ ): ∑


Range Range of errors : N-1
# obs (N) # data values (N): Variance ∑/(N-1)
Mean(∑/N) Mean for errors:( ∑/N) Std.deviation (√var)
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Analysis Questions
Exercise I
1. List the glassware from least to most accurate based on your calculated percentage error. Does the order
agree with what you obtained in question 5? Comment on any variation.
2. Some students may have the beaker giving them the most accurately measured volume of water. How is
this possible? Do you think that if they measured the same volume again they would get the same
result? Explain your answer.

Exercise II
1. Do you see a trend between size of glassware and accuracy in measurement? Comment on your
observations.

Exercise III
3. Do you see a trend between number of combined measurements and accuracy in measurement?
Comment on your observations.
4. Do you think you would see a similar trend if you used a measuring cylinder? A beaker? Explain.

Class Data
1. For the two sets of class data, calculate the a) average with range b) variance and c) standard deviation.
Based on this information, which of the two glassware is more precise? Is this what you expected?
Comment.
2. Make a plot for each of the two sets of class data. Do the data seem randomly distributed or are they
clustered? Are there any outlier points? What may be the cause of outlier points?
3. What is the range and average for percentage errors for the two sets of data. If the data were randomly
distributed the percentage error would be zero – explain why. Suggest a systematic error that could
result in a non-zero average. Suggest a non-systematic error that could result in a non-zero average.