Imagine. You’ve made it through your first semester or two of undergrad and weathered all the storms that come with this transition. And, now you find yourself facing a dreaded academic giant that has stricken fear in the hearts of scores of pre-medical students. A chemistry course unlike any other. If you are anything like most pre-medical students, you probably have or will find yourself asking: Do I really need to know any of this to be a doctor? What does learning about SN1 reactions, molecular orbitals, and Fischer projections have to do with me saving someone’s life!? For those still wondering, yes, the giant I speak of is none other than organic chemistry, otherwise known as orgo. In many respects, this course is considered the “gateway” to the medical profession. If you do well, you get into medical school; if you do poorly, you don’t. For many reason (to be explored in later blog posts) this sentiment is not true. But for a moment, let’s table that discussion.Read More
The word “chemistry” inspires so many emotions. To some, it brings about the excitement of mixing together a few glowing liquids and crafting the perfect radioactive potion that, when consumed, will make you a green giant and about 9000 times stronger. Next thing you know, Captain America is looking to recruit you as the newest Avenger. To others, it’s discombobulated numbers and letters on a piece a paper in Ms. Jacobs’ class, a concatenation that strikes fear and anxiety into the bravest of students. I mean … it looks like a foreign language!Read More
Chemical engineering is a comprehensive and vast field of study with far-reaching impact. I have been a practicing chemical engineer in the biotechnology industry for the last 5 years, and prior to that, I earned my doctorate in chemical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Over the last 10 years, I have seen the evolution and importance of chemical engineering fundamentals in academia and industry.Read More
As a high school chemistry teacher myself, I receive an onslaught of questions regarding the SAT subject test. It is difficult to gauge the best date to take it, how to prepare, and whether or not you're ready. The first thing you should know: you're not alone! Many students struggle with how to get started with this test. The important thing is to make a plan that makes sense for you. Today is great time to get started on it!Read More
Thanksgiving dinner conversations can be uncomfortable…
But solution composition problems don’t have to be. Recall that a solution is a homogenous mixture of two or more substances. Chemists have come up with many ways to describe the composition of a solution. Some ways are more appropriate than others depending on the situation.Read More
An everyday limiting reactant problem
You’re expecting company and totally forgot to go grocery shopping. What on earth will you feed your guests? Sandwiches! You have some ingredients to whip up some sandwiches. So, let’s assume you are going to go through with making these sandwiches. You need 2 slices of bread, 3 slices of meat (can’t be stingy), and 1 slice of cheese for each sandwich. After raiding your refrigerator, you discover that you have 8 slices of bread, 9 slices of meat, and 5 slices of cheese. You worry that this won’t be enough. How many sandwiches can you make?Read More
Ever lost points on a test because you forgot to write the units?
Rightfully so! Numbers have no meaning without its unit of measurement. Two can be greater the 12. Three can equal one. This is all dependent on the unit of measurement being used. In your general chemistry class, you will encounter measurements of all sorts. These measurements include time, length, mass, volume, and many more. Units of measurement are used to conceptualize the magnitude of these measurements. Gram, kilogram, pound, ounce, metric ton, stone, slug, microgram, atomic mass unit, carat… these are all units of measurement for mass alone. Why so many? Some units of measurement are more appropriate depending on what thing is being measured. Using an inappropriate unit of measurement may result in a number value that is too large or too small. When this happens, it becomes very difficult to wrap your head around the magnitude of the measurement.Read More
You’re taking your general chemistry midterm and you’ve decided to shuffle through the exam and complete all the hard things first. You’ve totally underestimated how much time those problems were going to take you and now you have three minutes left to write the electron configuration of 10 elements. Untimed, this would be easy to do. It’s systematic and straightforward but still requires a decent amount of thought based on how you were taught to do it. Your palms get sweaty. These are supposed to be easy points and there’s a possibility that you won’t complete it. If you do complete it, there’s a possibility that you’ll get them wrong because you were rushed. Your throat is getting tight at this point. You’re trying to recall if you were confident about the other questions you have already done, wondering if you can afford to lose these easy points in front of you. Your teacher announces that there are two more minutes before he starts collecting exams.Read More
Formal charge is the charge that a bonded atom would have if its bonding electrons were shared equally
- It is not an actual charge but rather a form electron book-keeping
- The sum of formal charges should equal the compound’s actual charge
I’ve already covered how to easily manage carboxylic acid derivative formation and manipulation using the Reactivity Hill.
Say we’re tired of whatever derivative we just created and want to bring the derivative back to its parent acid (the particular acid the derivative came from). There are two ways to “take home” any acid-derivative. We can account for these “take home” conditions in the Reactivity Hill scheme we’ve already seen.Read More