I think that the purpose of doing a lab in school is to gain a better understanding of what we’re learning in class and see it hands on.  Applying the knowledge we learned from class and applying it in a lab helps to reinforce our ability to see and analyze it from different perspectives.  Even though students aren’t usually the ones who design the experiment and there’s an expected result for the lab, I still think that the labs are pedagogically useful.  There should be an expected result that everyone should get because successful experiments have to be able to replicated and the results should generally be the same.  There’s usually a purpose in a lab, and if the result of the experiment isn’t the expected one, it would contradict what the student learned in class and it wouldn’t help in reinforcing the knowledge for students.  Of course, there’s always room for error in experiments so in that case, students will learn that repeating experiments would help in achieving accuracy and a common consensus.  So they’ll always learn from their “errors.”

Labs aren’t exactly necessary for a non-specialist course like ours, but it would definitely be helpful.  Doing these labs would help us see what real world scientists do and it would allow us to see the importance of what we learn in class.  For the synthesis of an aspirin lab, I hope to gain a better understanding of how the production of an aspirin works and how chemicals are able to combine to create a common drug.  It’s always rewarding to see a process to the end and get the expected result of an experiment.  If it isn’t the expected result, it’s a great learning experience.  A “lab” in a non-science course would be similar to a science lab.  It would have the same criteria of testing something to see if it would achieve the expected result.  For example, for a history course, a lab could consist of something like testing an event in history by compiling research from numerous reputable sources to attain a final conclusion.  You wouldn’t be able to use the same academic style of writing for an English or history class for a science lab report because in science there are components that aren’t relevant to other subjects.  Science is based a lot on data and observations as well as use of mathematical concepts.  Science is also always dynamic and there’s no right or wrong answer so a hypothesis and the conclusion of a lab report may differ from experimenter to experimenter.  Science lab reports are very straightforward and there can’t be any assumptions made that aren’t based on real data or observations.