The student pulled her test tube out of the ice bucket for the 10th time, and then slumped in despair at the sight of the clear liquid.
She shoved the sample back into the ice and put her head in her hands. Nestled in the ice next to her own, her classmates’ test tubes were full of fluffy white crystals, the result of a four-hour lab on recrystallization. Clearly, at some point in the afternoon, this student had done something different from her peers, and now not a speck was visible in her test tube.
The recrystallization lab is like most of the experiments we do in my "Chemistry 3A" section: There is a single desired outcome, intended to teach a chemical concept or a laboratory technique. But of course experiments can go awry in myriad ways, as anyone who has spent any time in a laboratory knows.