Introductory Chemistry (X11)

This partial syllabus will give you a general idea of the course structure.

Course syllabus (General information handout) (partial)

Quick reference
Introduction. Overview, prerequisites, customizing the course
Textbook; supplies
Course outline
Chapter handouts
Show and tell?
Withdrawals and feedback
Supplemental information. Miscellaneous additional information about the course, especially for prospective students with questions. This might be thought of as a supplement to the syllabus.

Intro Chem (X11) home page

Bottom of page; return links and contact information

Quick reference

Overview of the course format.

Thursday evenings; 14 classes.

Class starts at 6:30 promptly; 10 min break ~7:30; out ~8:35. Office hours: 6:00-6:30, in the classroom. I will also stay after class for questions.

1) Class 5, in class (2nd hour).
2) Class 9, take home test due next class period.

Final exam: Last class. (I can return the exam by mail, with an answer sheet and your course grade; please give me a SASE on exam night.)

Your course grade is based on the three tests, weighted equally. Special consideration will be given to students who do well on the final. Students can take the course on a pass-fail basis; you must take the tests and earn a C or better to pass. Registered students can also take the course without credit. See "Grades" section of Extension catalog; you can choose your grade option late in the course.

If you have a schedule problem with a test, please see me -- in advance if possible. If you miss something, please call and make arrangements.

All tests: You may use a periodic table (PT) plus one page (one side) of notes. Except for the PT, all notes must be in your own handwriting. (More about the note page later, or see information at the web site.) Note page information

Instructor e-mail: See contact information at bottom of page. Other contact information is in the printed syllabus handout.

Web site. You are at the course web site. Syllabus, some practice quizzes and sample tests, some supplementary materials, Internet links (including all mentioned in handouts), and materials for my other classes. Updates/handouts page: each week I will post updates/announcements about current schedule; it also links to most handouts, so you can download them if you miss a class, and to class slides.

A quick way to get to my site is to Google on "chem X11" or "chem Bruner" (without the quotes; capitalization should not matter).

Please sign up for the class e-mail list. This is for discussions, but it is also the best way to make announcements during the semester; messages go to everyone who is signed up. To reduce junk mail, details of list info are not posted on this page.

Internet access is not required for this course. There are no required assignments that make use of the Internet. If you do not have Internet access and want some of the optional materials available there, please check with me.

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Introduction. Overview, prerequisites, customizing the course.

The course is primarily intended as an overview of the basic chemical ideas that are particularly important for those working in the biological sciences. The overall course presents these focus topics in the framework of a coherent introduction to chemistry.

The course is at about the level of a year-long high school chemistry course or a one semester college "preparatory" chemistry course. It is the prerequisite for college level General Chemistry, "Chem 1".

We will study the basic vocabulary of chemistry. We will establish an understanding of the structure of atoms, and how this structure helps us understand chemical bonds. The discussion of bonds includes the "weak bonds" that determine the structure of water and information transfer by DNA.

We will emphasize chemical calculations, including the use of dimensional analysis to guide problem solving. The calculations will include mass - mole interconversions and calculations involving solutions; these are of considerable practical importance in biological labs.

In general, we hope that this course will provide an introduction to chemistry that will familiarize you with the basics, and allow you to go on and learn more from other studies or work.

The course is suitable for students with no previous background in chemistry, and is also suitable for those seeking a refresher.

Customizing the course. The level of presentation and choice of topics that we cover or emphasize are based on several considerations. You may find that these choices are not the best for you. Extension audiences are quite heterogeneous, but one common characteristic is that the students are highly motivated. If the course is not quite right for you, let's try to customize it. If you are a beginner and want to linger on some early material, talk with me about it; we will try to arrange a way for you to spend more time on this. If we skip a topic because it is "generally" of less interest, but you are interested -- again, see me.

If you would like to work at a more advanced level, there are options available. One option is for you to focus on the more difficult problems, those labeled "General" and "More challenging". Another option is to read and/or do problems from a more advanced book. If you would like to work from a regular "Chem 1" book, all we need to do is to coordinate so I know what it is you are turning in; please see me.

You may choose to work on different topics at different levels. Please feel free to talk with me about customizing the course at any time during the semester.

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Textbook; supplies

Textbook: M S Cracolice & E I Peters, Introductory Chemistry. Other versions, including newer editions, are available; see next paragraph.

For more information about the textbook and alternatives: The page Introductory Chemistry (X11) Supplemental information includes some general discussion of textbook alternatives. It also includes information about the various packagings and editions of this book and about the newer editions.

For more information about buying books, including additional price check services you might try, see my page Buying Books.

If you have any questions/comments/concerns/complaints, please e-mail me.

Also required: Calculator. A "scientific calculator" is highly recommended; it can handle scientific notation, logarithms, and square roots. An ordinary "4-function" calculator will get you started, but I encourage you to look for a scientific calculator as the course proceeds.

Please bring the textbook and calculator to class.

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Course outline

The primary plan is to follow Cracolice's book as listed in the Contents, probably through Ch 20. We will do Ch 4 out of order, and skip Ch 14. We will also skip some sections. The chapter numbers and such are based on second edition; other editions are similar. In fact, most basic chem books will have similar chapters.

General goals: See p 9 of Cracolice.

A tentative and approximate course outline, by class, follows.

  1. Course introduction. What is chemistry? Scientific method. Matter and energy. (Ch 1, start Ch 2)
  2. Elements and compounds, symbols and formulas; basic concepts and vocabulary. Introduction to chemical calculations; dimensional analysis. Measurements, units; metric conversions. (Ch 2, start Ch 3)

    Chapter handouts are posted. For more about these handouts, see the Chapter handouts section below.

  3. Dimensional analysis, measurements (continued): significant figures; density; temperature. Introduction to atomic structure: major subatomic particles (P, E, N), the nucleus; atomic number, atomic mass, isotopes. Periodic table; chemical families. (Ch 3, 5)
  4. Chemical compounds, and how they are named. Types of compounds. The logic of ionic compounds. Simple ions, predictable from the periodic table; common polyatomic ions. (Ch 6)
  5. Mole, Avogadro's number, molar mass. Mass - mole interconversion. Composition by weight percentage. (Ch 7) [Test #1; in class, second hour]
  6. Chemical reactions, equations, balancing. Reaction types (introduction): e.g., combination, decomposition, combustion, redox. (Ch 8)
  7. Calculations from balanced chemical equations: mole ratios; mole, weight and heat relationships. Heat of reaction, endothermic and exothermic reactions. Electron configurations and the periodic table; valence electrons. (Ch 9, 10)
  8. Chemical bonds: ionic and covalent bonds as basic bond types, octet rule, Lewis (electron dot) structures, double and triple bonds. Molecular shape: VSEPR for simple shape predictions. Bond and molecule polarity, electronegativity. (Ch 11, 12)
  9. Nature of gases and liquids; kinetic theory. Intermolecular ("weak") bonds, such as hydrogen bonds; structure of water; liquid-vapor equilibrium. Weak bonds in DNA and proteins. (parts of Ch 4, 13, 15) [Test #2 handed out.]
  10. [Test #2 due.] Solutions: terminology, how things dissolve, concentration (molarity, percentage), calculations. Dilution calculations. (Ch 16)
  11. Reactions in solutions. Electrolytes; net ionic equations; solubilities. Acids and bases: Bronsted-Lowry model of acids and bases, proton transfer reactions, strength. Ionization of water and its equilibrium, Kw; pH. (Ch 17, 18)
  12. Electron transfer reactions: parallels between acid-base and oxidation-reduction reactions; oxidation numbers. Redox reactions in biology. (Ch 19)
  13. Chemical equilibrium: collision theory, reaction rates, dynamic equilibrium, Le Chatelier's principle; equilibrium constants. Buffers. K and free energy. Biology: coupling favorable and unfavorable reactions. (Ch 20) (Also, bring questions on any course material.) (It is common that we have little or no time for Ch 20.)
  14. Final exam.

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Chapter handouts

These handouts discuss the reading assignments for upcoming classes. They may describe areas of emphasis, and even give a brief overview of material we will skip. Students who are new to a topic should emphasize the issues noted as most important. Those who are doing well in a particular area are encouraged to go beyond the required assignment.

Problem assignments are noted only occasionally. See Homework section, below.

Errata. If you find further errors during your reading, please tell me about them; experience shows that students are better at finding errors than I am. (Also, please tell me about errors or other problems in the handouts.)

Chapter handouts are posted.

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You are responsible for the assigned material. Each of you should work out study habits and homework procedures that serve your needs.

Doing problems is important in learning chemistry. Do enough that you become comfortable with the material, not just enough to get by; your retention to test time (and beyond) will be better. Doing a few problems that challenge you, and force you to re-study key material in order to do them, is better than grinding out many easy problems. Be sure to do a variety of problems, representative of the entire assignment, rather than just the first few for a chapter.

Cracolice's book includes extensive problems and questions. I strongly encourage all students to do the Examples and the Target Check (TC) problems that are within the chapters. Each Example is followed immediately by the worked-out solution. However, Cracolice intends that you cover the solution, and try the problem yourself (see p 10); I encourage this. The TC problems are usually quite basic, and the answers are at the end of the chapter. I suggest that you do these as you read through the chapter.

End-of-chapter problems. Some of these are keyed to individual chapter sections. Answers (and partial set-ups) are at the end of the chapter. This lets you get immediate feedback as you go.

When you feel comfortable with the basic material, go on and do some "General" or "More Challenging" Questions from the end of each problem set; these broadly cover all of the material in the chapter.

If you don't agree with the book answer, or don't understand it, please see me.

Those who are using my web site materials for self-study... You are welcome -- and encouraged -- to ask me questions when difficulties arise. (My contact information is at the bottom of each of my web pages.) It always helps if you include how you would answer the question and why. That lets me respond to what you are thinking, lets me focus my reply on where you are having trouble. Sometimes questions can be interpreted in more than one way, and sometimes book answers are simply wrong. The level of discourse -- and your learning of chemistry -- is enhanced by trying to focus on reasons, not simply answers. If you are asking about a question from another book, be sure to include the question, and some context; some questions can be answered at more than one level, and I don't know what is expected of you unless you say something about the context.

More problems are in the optional supplements. I would appreciate hearing about topics for which the number or type of problems in the textbook is inadequate; I can develop extra problem sets.

In general, you should prepare for class by doing the reading shown for the class period, and the problems (Examples, Target Check) within the chapter. Class will make more sense if you have done some preparation, have an idea of where we are going and what you find easy or hard. You can then do the end-of-chapter problems for the following class.

We may discuss some of the homework in class, including questions raised by students, and other selected problems. I may call on people to answer questions, or to do problems on the board. Please come prepared!

I will collect a few homework assignments. These will be mainly chemical calculations, where the method is as important as the answer. Therefore, I want to look over some of this work, so I can provide personal feedback on your problem solving. These assignments will be noted explicitly in the chapter handouts.

I am happy to look at any other homework on which you would like some feedback; an IN envelope for turning in homework will always be available. I'll return your work the next class. (If you would like it back faster, provide a SASE, and I'll try to return it within a day or so. Also, feel free to mail me homework, or to call or e-mail questions.) (You can also use the IN envelope for comments, suggestions, questions.)

Those who like to turn in regular written work might consider turning in, say, 2 pages of current problems each class period.

If you want more structure, I suggest that you keep a homework log. Each day, record the date, chapter, problems done, and then add a comment about what you have accomplished and what needs to be done.

As a rule of thumb, since this is a college level course you should spend an average of ~5-6 hr/week on the course outside of class. Much of that should be spent working problems.

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Show and tell?

Has something in the course helped you understand a real world situation, from work or home or a recent newspaper? Or do you have a question that seems related to what we are doing? Bring your answers, or your questions, and share them.

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Withdrawals and feedback

I appreciate receiving feedback from students who do not complete the course. Routine course evaluations are done at the end; of course, that way we hear only from those who are still with us. It is useful to know how those who leave early perceive the course. Courses do get modified, and we discuss the possibility of new courses. Information from those who are less satisfied would be helpful. I can supply you an evaluation form, or you can just write me something, generally describing what you found good and not so good about the course. If the course did not meet your needs, please tell us why.

In any case, I encourage you to make notes as the course proceeds about what you like and what you would like to see changed. That will allow a more detailed evaluation. See the web page "Supplemental information" for some suggested areas to comment on.

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Supplemental information. A page of miscellaneous additional information about the course is posted at the web site: Supplemental information. It includes discussion that may help you decide whether this course is at the right level for you, as well as some comments about how the course works. It might be thought of as a supplement to the syllabus. The last section of that page includes some comments about the course from previous classes.

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Last update: April 29, 2019