Chemistry 126 Sections AB Syllabus Spring 2008
Prof. Bob Hanson
Office Sc346 x3107
Office hours: See my schedule for details.
Chemistry 126 Will Be a Little Different From What You Are Used To
So far, you've probably studied chemistry as though everything were an unmoving, rocklike "structure." Nature, though, is dynamic. Organisms grow and die. Water flows. Colors fade. Ozone depletes. These changes are what Chemistry 126 is all about. Chemistry 126 is unique among first-year college chemistry courses. At virtually all other colleges the second semester of chemistry is simply a continuation of the first. You will not find this course to be simply more of the same of Chemistry 123 or 125. Instead we will take a close look "under the hood" of chemistry to see what makes chemical reactions "tick." We'll be using a new book for the first seven weeks. Then we'll go back to a traditional textbook to look at reduction, oxidation, and electrochemistry, since these areas are so important in biology and industrial chemistry and require knowledge of thermodynamics. Finally we'll look at kinetics, the study of how fast reactions go. So, you see, we'll be looking at chemistry from a variety of perspectives.
I grade on a "sliding scale." The above point ranges are goals. If necessary, I will lower the A-B and B-C cutoffs to ensure a roughly B average in the course. I am deeply committed to helping you at whatever level you are at. If you're getting a D, I'll try my hardest to help you bring that up to a C. If you're getting a C, then I'll help you get a B. If you are unsatisfied with a B, I'll help you get an A. I won't do it for you, but I can do it with you. If you're getting an A, well, you probably don't need my help (although I'll still be more than happy to talk with you).
Thus, I would like you to think of me as your advocate for a better grade. I will work very hard with each of you who asks to get you the best grade you can get. I will help you find your way through the intricacies of the texts; I will help you see the problems from a perspective you might not have thought of.
So take advantage of those office hours. I'd very much like to get to know you. Please stop by and introduce yourself: "Professor Hanson, I'm <your name here>. I'm in your Chem 126 class, section..." is all you have to say. I'm really interested in what makes this or that particular concept difficult for you. I'll help you find the missing puzzle piece and help you find a way to keep it. I learn a lot from talking to my students and often build my presentations based on what I hear people telling me in my office.
This semester each homework assignment will be graded on a qualitative scale based on completeness and mastery:
It's incredibly important that you keep up on the homework in this course. The idea is that you give it a try prior to coming to class the day that it is listed on the attached schedule of assignments. That day is the day the subjects relating to the homework will be discussed. Write down questions that you have as you try to work the problems. Where do you get stuck? The due date and time is listed with each assignment as well. Feel free to stop by my office during the day and ask advise. The hints are free. ONLY ONE assignment will be accepted late for credit. My grader and I will work very hard to get these assignments back to you as soon as possible (usually within two calendar days). Realize that you won't be getting back a detailed correction. Look in the library after the assignments have been returned for detailed worked out keys to the homework.
I strongly recommend working together on the homework. If you find yourself not with a group and wanting to be, please let me know. I will try to find someone else in the class who can give you a hand.
There will be four midterm exams. Their dates are indicated on the attached schedule. All will be hour-long closed-book tests. If you plan to be gone on a day of examination, I must know ahead of time! Missing the quiz or one of the exams may result in a 0 score on that quiz or exam. A day or two prior to each I will announce an evening problem-solving session. At these sessions, I will work through assigned homework problems with whoever shows up. These meetings won't be lectures; no new material will be presented. In the past these have been fun, casual events when everyone can get a word in on how to think about the problems.
The laboratory experiments you will do are critical parts of the course. There will be prelab assignments, and you will be expected to do some work PRIOR TO COMING TO LAB. Check the lab manual for details. A grade of 140 (70%) on the labs is required for passing Chemistry 126, regardless of how well you do on exams and homework. Each week I will try to spend some time in class going through what you will do in lab that week. I'm pretty sure that this year in every case you will have had the subject matter relating to a lab in class prior to seeing it in lab. Nonetheless, a quick read-through of the next week's lab may help you make sense out of the reading and homework assignments for class. The lab manual and your lab reports can help you a lot in studying for the exams. Some of the problems on the exams will be in the context of the lab.
I think you're in for a treat. Whether you're a chemistry major, biology major, philosophy major, or English major, there will be something here for you. You are about to learn a way of looking at the natural world that is incredibly powerful. You will learn the fundamentals of what is going on behind the scenes in everything that you see, hear, and touch. Realize that what you are about to learn is a theory. As such, it will be inherently theoretical and somewhat abstract. Nonetheless, this year more than any previous year we're not going to get mired in a sea of mathematics.
I know that as a college student you are bombarded with many ideas in many subjects. My challenge to you is to fit them together into a complete package that you call your "world view." If what you are learning here doesn't seem to fit with what you know about biology or physics, let me know! I want it to, because I believe very strongly that fitting information you are learning into what you already know is the only way you will gain anything from this course. If you think something you are learning should have some application in some other subject, challenge me to find the link for you. In my opinion, such connections are the essence of a liberal arts education. If you let them slip by then you are doing yourself a disservice.