Chemistry 151: Chemical Principles I

Fall 2018 syllabus

Lecture section C, 1:30 pm MWF, Olin Hall Room 102.

View instructor contact information.

All materials associated with this course are copyrighted and may not be stored or distributed in anyway.

Chemistry 151 is a general chemistry course intended primarily for students who are concentrating in the science area. The instructor, Dr. Mertzenich, acts as your public and personal "chemistry coach" and guide to see you through introductory chemistry and prepare you for organic chemistry and beyond, and it is the instructor's goal to provide the student with the tools and resources needed to achieve the highest possible grade. Chem 151 includes substantive introductions to material as well as problem training sessions that lead to total student engagement and learning. Welcome to chemistry at Luther College!

Chemistry 151 is more rigorous than high school chemistry but slower paced (but no less rigorous) than Chemistry 201 (Advanced Chemical Principles); if, after the first Chemistry 151 lecture, Chem 151 seems too slow-paced for you, you should consider transferring to Chemistry 201—feel free to discuss this possibility with the Chem 151 &/or 201 instructors, and/or your advisor. If you have had two years of chemistry and/or AP chemistry and substantive math experience in high school, you should probably be in Chem 201 rather than Chem 151. Click here for additional information on the topic of whether a student should take 151 or 201.

Algebra skills are assumed in Chemistry 151. Although there is no prerequisite for Chem 151, most students in this course have had a high school chemistry experience and, thus, this course is geared that way; students who have not had any prior chemistry course are strongly recommended to consult with the instructor.

Given that chemistry 151 is a college-level course, it is expected that a student will spend approximately four-to-six hours per week working OUTSIDE OF CLASS for the theory (lecture) component of chemistry 151. The time required typically depends on one’s preparation in chemistry before taking this course, the complexity of the material, and other factors. Work time OUTSIDE OF CLASS includes, but is not necessarily limited to, reading the text and/or watching videos and/or working problems contained therein, working quiz preparation (qp) problems, preparing for quizzes and/or exams and, if the student has questions or comments, consulting with chemistry instructor(s).

Luther College recognizes the importance of diversity within the classroom and is committed to providing an inclusive environment where all feel respected, valued and accepted. Scientific advancement occurs when individuals collaborate and bring different ideas together. Each individual’s unique viewpoint and experiences bring important elements to the discussion of science, and accepting and embracing this diversity and will help in understanding the complex world in which we live.


Visit the Luther College Book Shop website to see what you need to purchase for the course. If you decide to purchase anything other than what's listed at the Book Shop, you run the risk of purchasing the wrong edition or something that is not acceptable for the course. For example, the first edition of the text is not an acceptable substitute for the second edition because of changes that were made to the text on going from the first to the second edition.

The following text will be used:


The instructor will communicate with the class as a whole outside of lecture or lab time primarily via email sent to your Luther email address. Sometimes documents and other information might be posted on KATIE. Scores will be posted on KATIE.

Lecture/class time

In general, the lecture period is the time when new material is discussed, although questions about homework assignments or questions/comments concerning an upcoming quiz or exam are sometimes entertained after the new lecture material has been encountered on any given day. Questions about grading and points on quizzes and exams should be discussed with the instructor privately in the instructor's office or via telephone or email.

Chapters 1-7 and 9-11 of are covered in this course.

Reading and Homework

Students are expected to do homework to practice for quizzes and exams. Specific information about readings and homework, including due dates, will be indicated on KATIE. Students are expected to check KATIE regularly. Students should provide explanations and show logic/calculations as appropriate. There may or may not be time in lecture to deal with homework problems; the student should count on getting his/her homework done outside of class. It is anticipated that students might study in groups; however, each student must submit his/her own homework, which must be his/her own work.


Exams are given during a class period on the date indicated on this syllabus. Exams during the semester are designed to test student understanding of and proficiency in chemistry. Students are required to take exams at the appointed time unless other arrangements are made prior to the test. If you are unable to take the exam on the day scheduled, the instructor has the option of giving a different equivalent examination. Exams typically have multiple components including (possibly) fill in the blank, worked out problems, multiple choice, etc.  The best way to prepare for exams in this course is by re-working, and coming to an understanding of, the problems which have caused you difficulty in the past. It is also a good idea to re-work lecture problems and to work (and/or re-work) problems suggested during lecture. As a review of chapter material, see the Chapter Summary section at the end of each chapter. Show all work—not just a brief answer—on all exams, unless directed otherwise by the instructor.


Quizzes are like mini-exams. Occasional quizzes may be given in class. Quizzes may be announced, and textbook sections to be covered made explicit, or they may be "spot" quizzes covering material recently discussed in lecture. Quizzes may have multiple components including (possibly) fill in the blank, worked out problems, multiple choice, etc. The best way to prepare for quizzes in this course is by re-working, and coming to an understanding of, the problems which have caused you difficulty in the past. It is also a good idea to re-work lecture problems and to work (and/or re-work) problems suggested during lecture. As a review of chapter material, see the Chapter Summary section at the end of each chapter. Students are required to take quizzes at the appointed time unless other arrangements are made prior to the quiz. If homework assignments or quizzes are missed due to a justifiable absence from class, the student will be given the opportunity to redo these at a later date. Show all work—not just a brief answer—on all quizzes, unless directed otherwise by the instructor. 

Final Exam

There will be a comprehensive, cumulative final exam during final exams week. The final exam will cover material from all of Chem 151. Let your instructor know if you will have a conflict (more than 3 exams scheduled within a 24 hour period during finals week). Except in cases of College-approved family or personal emergencies, all students are required to take the final exam at the time scheduled. Out of fairness to all of the students in the class, no other exceptions will be made; make your end-of-semester transportation arrangements accordingly. Show all work on the Final Exam—not just a brief answer—unless directed otherwise by the instructor. 


The laboratory experiments start on Monday of the second week of classes.
All chemistry knowledge is ultimately derived from laboratory experiments; hence, the laboratory experience is essential to a study of chemistry. Laboratory experiments in Chemistry 151 are designed to reinforce chemical principles and techniques discussed in the lecture component of the course. Lab attendance is required and will be checked. Students must perform and turn in reports for all experiments in order to get credit for Chemistry 151. If, due to legitimate reasons, you cannot make it to your scheduled lab period during a given week, contact a different lab instructor to see if you can go to his section that week; if given permission, contact your regular lab instructor and let him know that you will not be in his lab section that particular week.

Students are required to pass the lab safety quiz with a score of >85 percent before you are allowed in the lab. This quiz is located on the KATIE site for the lab and must be taken and passed by the date and time indicated on the KATIE site. You have unlimited attempts at the quiz and only the highest score counts. Anyone who doesn't pass this quiz by this date/time will be required to take the significantly longer version of the lab safety quiz before they are allowed in the lab.

Check the laboratory KATIE site (maintained by Professor Winsauer) regularly for additional laboratory information. The lab syllabus is on the lab KATIE site.


Exams: 50%
Final Exam: 20%
Quiz/Homework/Other: 10%
Laboratory: 20%
Total: 100%

A student has two weeks after a score is posted or a report or quiz is returned—whichever is later—to bring to the lecture instructor's attention potential errors in the scoring. After two weeks, a score will not be changed.

The grading policy in this course is results-oriented. If a student can achieve the course goals with no effort at all, s/he can take pride in achieving results efficiently. If a student requires tremendous effort to achieve the course goals, s/he can take pride in overcoming adversity. Each of those is commendable in its own way, but in neither case will the degree of effort be reflected in the grade.

After all of the graded components (tests, HW, quizzes, labs, and final exam) are weighted into the average score, adjustments are made to ensure that this average is at least a B-. Scores are never curved down, so that a final average will always yield a letter grade at least as high as shown on the table below. Please note that all Chem 151 lecture sections will use the same text and have a common laboratory experience. The scores from only this section will be used to determine the average for this lecture section. There is no "extra credit" available. The following grading scale will be used.

A: 93-100%
A-: 90-92%
B+: 87-89%
B: 83-87%
B-: 80-82%
C+: 77-79%
C: 73-76%
C-: 70-72%
D+: 67-69%
D: 63-66%
D-: 60-62%
F: 0-59%

Scores, grades, etc., will usually be posted on KATIE.

Lab and lecture schedules are subject to modifications, as is staffing. Everything else on this syllabus is final.

Course Links

Study Strategies to Score High on Exams: Study Plan for the Semester:
It’s the beginning of a new semester, and probably the last thing you want to think about is exams. But actually, the moment you get your syllabi and begin your day-to-day assignments is the moment you should make a plan of action to score high on your exams.

Additional online texts:
Lewis structures

Some VSEPR sites:
Mendeleev’s Legacy: The Periodic System
Mendeleev was not the only person to "invent" the periodic table

Galileo on Ice
All about the periodic table
(Thanks to Maya & Michael P. for suggesting this.)
Liquid dinitrogen
Can you name the abbreviations for the elements of the Periodic Table?
(Thanks to Luther College student Justin Kaspryk for bringing this to Prof. Mertzenich's attention.)
Molecules 360

The Chemistry Solution free chemistry tutorials