Andrew Dicks, Landon Edgar (University of Toronto, Canada)
Traditional synthetic organic laboratory experiments expect students to follow a strict protocol in order to obtain a target molecule. An alternative to this paradigm will be discussed in this presentation: an experiment designed and performed at the third-year level in a class of up to 40 undergraduates. Students are tasked with synthesizing an individualized azlactone derivative without guidance from instructors or teaching assistants. They are provided with one of several possible starting materials and must consult relevant literature to develop a synthetic pathway towards their target molecule. Bonus marks are awarded for incorporation of green chemistry principles into student protocols. The (typically) three-step synthesis is performed over two 4.5 hour laboratory periods where students must be judicious about the order in which they perform each step. This experiment has been offered for seven years, performed by over 250 students, and has consistently been received with great enthusiasm.