A Comprehensive Revision of the
Introductory Chemistry Course


David E. Henderson Henry A. DePhillips, Chemistry Department, Trinity College, Hartford, CT 06106
David.Henderson@Trincoll.edu (Internet)

An approach to teaching introductory chemistry is described which incorporates a large number of changes from the traditional

1. The course is completely laboratory driven. - Classroom time is used only for material demanded by the experiments. Laboratory data is brought to the classroom to develop general principles from specific observations.

Lab Experiments
1 - Computer Modeling Lab - Size, shape, and dipole moments using CAChe
Lecture Topics - Chemical Bonding, molecular structure, balancing chemical reactions.

2 - Boiling Points and Flame Characteristics of Organic Liquids.Ester
Lecture Topics - Chemical Bonding and Structure Revisited, Effects of structure and polarity on Physical Properties

3- Synthesis Part 1: Synthesis of Aspirin and Methyl Salicylate Ester
Lecture Topics - Synthesis, Per Cent Yield, Stoichiometry.

4 -Synthesis Part 2: Separation and Identification (TLC and IR)
Lecture Topics - Chemical Separations, Introduction to Spectroscopy

5 - Acids & Bases Part 1: pH Measurement - Food and Beverage samples.
Lecture Topics - Spectroscopy and Models of Atomic Structure
Introduction to the Periodic Table, Atomic Theory

6- Acids & Bases Part 2: Titration
Lecture Topics - Acids, Bases, and pH Titration and Stoichiometry

7 - Calorimetry - Heat of Neutralization
Lecture Topics - Thermochemistry

8 - Lipids Part 1: Fats and Oils - Discovery experiment on fat and water content of margarine.
Lecture Topics - Fats, Lipids, and Soaps

9 - Lipids Part 2: Soaps
Lecture Topics - Solutions and Intermolecular forces

10 - Empirical Formula - Metal oxides and sulfides - VSEPR
Lecture Topics - Empirical Formulas, Per Cent composition, Lewis Structures and VSEPR, Molecular Orbital Theory

11 - Discovery experiment on Gas Laws.
Lecture Topics - Gas Laws, Graphing Experimental Data

12 - Data Analysis - Significant Figures, standard deviation, and Linear Regression
Lecture Topics - Significant Figures and introductory statistical treatment of data

13 - Electrochemistry - Equivalent Weight of a metal.
Lecture Topics - Electrochemistry and Oxidation-Reduction Reactions

14 - Oxidation and reduction, Part 1: Analysis of a Vitamin C tablet
Lecture Topics - Electrochemistry and Oxidation-Reduction Reactions - cont.

15 - Oxidation and reduction, Part 2: Student Project - Vitamin C in foods.
Lecture Topics - Macromolecular Chemistry - Synthetic and biopolymers. Introduction to Biochemistry (Carbohydrates, Amino acids, Proteins, Enzymes, Nucleic Acids)

16 - Synthesis of Co(III) coordination complexes
Lecture Topics - Transition metals, color and absorption of light

17 - Spectra of Co(III) coordination complexes
Lecture Topics - Crystal Field Theory

18 - Kinetics - Iodine Clock Reaction
Lecture Topics - Chemical Kinetics

19 - Enzyme Catalyzed Reactions- Alkaline Phosphatase
Lecture Topics - Enzyme Kinetics

20 - Determination of an Equilibrium Constant - Fe[SCN]
Lecture Topics - Chemical Equilibrium, Thermodynamics

21 - Acid Rain Analysis Part 1: Spectrophotometric Nitrate and Turbidimetric Sulfate.
Lecture Topics - Acid-Base Chemistry Revisited, Solubility Equilibrium

22 - Acid Rain Analysis Part 2: HPLC Analysis of Nitrate and Sulfate.
Lecture Topics - Environmental Chemistry, Introduction to Chromatography

23 - Data Analysis and correlations for Acid Rain Project

Project Experiments requiring Student Design of Experimental Protocols shown in purple

2. The course makes extensive use of computational chemistry (Personal CAChe). - The shapes and structural features of
molecules and their relationship to physical and chemical properties are developed beginning with simple organic molecules.

1- Build models, optimize with MM2, measure size
2 - Rotation around a single bond
3 - Dipole moment calculation and correlation with functional groups and boiling points
4 - Calculated IR Spectra (MINDO) vs lab data
5 - Weak Acid Strength
6 - Hybrid orbitals and VSEPR

3. Student project labs allow students to ask and answer their own scientific questions. - Topics are selected to insure student interest.
1 - Acids in commercial products
2 -Vitamin C in foods
3 - Oil content of regular and "lite" margarine
4 -The Acid Rain Project involves the entire class in environmental chemistry

4. Extensive writing is required. - Writing occurs both in explaining lab results and in response to related reading assignments in the scientific and popular literature. (Writing to Learn)

1 - Three formal lab reports each term on open ended experiments allow students to report results and draw conclusions. Reports are
rewritten until they demonstrate a solid understanding of the fundamental chemistry
2 - Writing Assignments - 2-3 per term on course material and popular literature.
3 - Essay questions on Exams

5. Collaborative learning is emphasized in the laboratory and classroom. - Peer review of writing and oral presentations by student
groups are used.

Typical Oral Presentation Topics

Chemical Weapons
Rocket Fuels
Genetic Engineering
Fossil Fuels
Arsenic Poisoning
Mercury Poisoning
Drug Addiction

6. The topic coverage is designed to maximize student appeal. - Topics and examples related to food, biochemistry, and the
environment keep student interest high while teaching basic principles.