Chemistry 141: Essentials of Chemistry

                                    Chemistry 141-A: Essentials of Chemistry

                                    Spring 2018

         Click here for laboratory tentative schedule.

Lecture (Valders 369)                         MWF 1:30-2:30 pm

Lab (SHL 233)                                    Thu    11:00 am – 12:30 pm               


Instructor:                 C. Mertzenich

office: Sampson Hoffland Laboratories 390F

phone: 563-387-1626

email: [email protected]

office hours:

Course textbook:       Chemistry: An Integrated Approach (4th edition) by Kenneth W. Raymond, 2014.

Wiley and Sons, Inc. ISBN: 978-1-118-35258-8

This course essentially covers chapters 1-7 of this text.


Additional requirement:   Laboratory Goggles


Attendance: You are strongly urged to attend lectures and participate in discussions. There will be information included in the lectures, which is not in the text. Attendance is mandatory on test days and assignments must be handed in (either in person or online) on time or ahead of time if you will be absent on a due date.


Overview: The study of chemistry as a subject is an overwhelming field, and as such, most chemists usually specialize in only one of the principle branches. In this general chemistry course we will touch on most of the branches of chemistry in a brief overview. The main branches of chemistry today are classified as analytical chemistry (identification and separation of different molecules), physical chemistry (structure of atoms and molecules and laws which govern how they transform), inorganic chemistry (study of compounds lacking carbon), and organic chemistry (study of carbon and its compounds). Biochemistry, applying these branches to the biological world is quickly emerging as a fifth stand-alone branch of chemistry. As this course is a one-semester general chemistry class we will touch on highlights of these areas including:

·               Chemical elements and compounds, as well as the quantitative means we use to understand chemical reactions and to carry out lab work

·               Atomic Structures and Chemical Bonding

·               Organic compounds and basic organic reactions

·               Specific understandings of the different states of matter: gases, liquids and solids

·               An introduction to chemical reactions

·               Acids, Bases and Equilibrium


Course Grading: Upon receiving graded work, students have one week to bring any grading errors to my attention, after one week has passed, changes in scores will not be accommodated. The final letter grade assigned for this course will be determined from the distribution of scores for the entire class. The breakdown of the grade is as follows:

Quiz/Homework/other:                                               10 %

Laboratory:                                                                 20 %

Three In-Class Exams:                                                50 %

Final Exam (comprehensive):                                    20 %

Total:                                                                           100%

Homework: Problem sets will be assigned regularly. Time to do homework is about two hours per class period.


Laboratory: Your weekly laboratory periods are scheduled separately from this class and breakdown of the grade is given in your lab material. The final lab grade is then folded back in to the course grade and accounts for the above stated percentage. Completion of all laboratories is mandatory. You can't pass the course if you receive a failing grade (<60%) in the lab component. You are expected to complete all labs, if you have more than one unexcused absence or more than one missed lab report you will receive a failing grade for the course. Laboratory grades will be assigned for laboratory reports. Data collection, analysis, and lab reports are usually all completed within the laboratory period.

Tentative lab schedule:
8 feb introduction/safety/checkin
15 feb discovering density flinn lab 1
22 feb beverage density flinn lab 2
1 mar separation by filtration flinn lab 4
8 mar periodic trends flinn lab # 5
15 mar classifying chemical reactions flinn lab # 6
22 mar chemical bonding and the properties of solids flinn lab 7

29 mar spring break

5 apr lewis structures and molecular geometry flinn lab 8
12 apr analysis of data from labs 5, 6, and/or 7
19 apr mole ratios flinn lab 9
26 apr molar volume of hydrogen flinn lab 10
3 may ruby-red colloidal gold flinn lab 13
10 may titration of fruit juices flinn lab 18
17 may data review, cleanup, and checkout 

In-class exams:

Exams will be given during the normal class meeting time. You are expected to be present for the exams. If you will be absent (for a school sanctioned event or family emergency), you must discuss this with me prior to the exam. Unless there is an arrangement made prior to exam date, no make-up exams will be given. In those instances where an alternative exam date is granted, I reserve the right to administer an exam that differs in form and/or content from the exam given on the scheduled date.  Students requiring accommodations such as extended time or private exam rooms must consult with the Student Academic Support Center in order to obtain a formal, written request for accommodation. You are required to bring your own calculator to each exam. No other materials may be used on exams. Using cell phones (even calculator apps) will be prohibited during exams.                         

Final Exam: The final exam will be cumulative on the whole semester of work.



Strategies for Success:


  • Prepare for Class: There are two key components for being prepared for class. The first is you MUST have reviewed the previous days lecture and be up to speed (for many, this includes re-writing lecture notes, working on practice problems, and talking with others). Secondly, looking ahead in the text to the new material will give you an introduction to what is coming and increase your confidence to actively participate in class.
  • Solve Problems: Solving as many problems as possible (weekly) will allow you to prove to yourself that you not only understand the lectures but you can apply what you have learned.
  • Use Available Resources: For many, it is very hard to master chemistry without help, so when you need it find the help you need!! Resources available: me, departmental and SASC tutors, extra textbooks in the library and CLASSMATES. Yes, Classmates: forming study groups helps many students. Work with classmates on extra problems and general studying to catch areas you are not comfortable. After group work to test yourself, solve problems on your own making sure you have learned the material, as you will have to take the tests yourself.
  • WORK ON THIS COURSE EVERYDAY (between class periods): This is the ultimate key for success. Falling behind in this course can be a hazard. For most students to succeed in chemistry they must spend time on the course between every class meeting, not just once a week, and definitely not just before exams.


DISCAIMER: This syllabus is my best prediction of how the course will progress; to give you an idea of where we are and what’s coming. The order in which we cover the material, the dates of the exams and the breakdown of evaluation will not change. We may, however, fall slightly off the schedule, so what material is on the exams and other important information will always be given in class and on the KATIE site (more accurately than this document).