High school chemistry: What is it? Can I learn it? Can I be any good at it?

Posted by Niyi on 9/2/19 11:00 AM

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!

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Tags: chemistry, high school

So, what is chemical engineering for anyway?

Posted by Abhiram on 8/9/19 11:00 AM

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.

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Tags: chemistry

How to begin preparing for the SAT subject test in chemistry

Posted by Marilyn on 7/22/19 3:47 PM

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!

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Tags: chemistry, chemistry SAT subject test

Complex Solution Composition Problems: Knowing Where to Start

Posted by Viemma on 1/4/19 3:12 PM

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. 

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Tags: chemistry

Guide to Limiting Reactant Problems...Using Sandwiches

Posted by Viemma on 12/26/18 4:51 PM

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?

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Tags: chemistry

Dimensional Analysis: Why the Factor Label Method is a Life Saver

Posted by Viemma on 12/14/18 2:22 PM

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. 

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Tags: chemistry

Electron Configurations: A Must Know Hack

Posted by Viemma on 12/12/18 3:15 PM

Imagine this…

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.

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Tags: chemistry

Formal Charge: What They Didn’t Tell You in your General Chemistry Class

Posted by Viemma on 12/3/18 10:14 PM

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
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Tags: chemistry

Orgo 2 Strategies: “Taking Home” Carboxylic Acid Derivatives

Posted by Andrew S. on 10/30/17 6:22 PM

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.

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Tags: chemistry

Organic Chemistry: This Subject Gives You Alkynes of Trouble!

Posted by Daljit on 10/27/17 4:39 PM

Although some people genuinely enjoy it, organic chemistry is stigmatized as the bane of every science major's curriculum. Before you actually take one or two courses in this subject, the horror stories that you've heard from those who have already taken these courses fill you with anxiety and leave you fearing the unknown. I'm not going to sugar coat it: organic chemistry is difficult but not impossible. As long as you devote enough time to study for the exams and figure out an effective study system (I used flashcards), you will be fine when it's all said and done. If you have ever taken an organic chemistry class or if you are currently taking one now, you know that there are feelings and experiences that only a past, or current, organic chemistry student understands.

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Tags: chemistry