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Chemistry 255/256: Analytical Chemistry

Course Information and Syllabus - spring, 1999

John P. Walters

Office Hours:


Office: SC 328



Phone: x3429







We will take the entire first class period to set the organization of the course for the entire semester, and more attention is paid to structural detail here than at other times during the semester.

Required Materials


Harris, Quantitative Chemical Analysis, 5th Ed.


Texas Instruments TI-86 Calculator (TI-85 is NOT OK)

Lab Manual

Role-Playing in Analytical Chemistry (purchase from SOCS)

Eye Protection

Laboratory Goggles (bring your own or purchase from SOCS)


The class departs from previous offerings at St. Olaf; it provides you the opportunity to explore analytical chemistry in an environment that emphasizes teamwork and to develop skills, both technical and interpersonal, that will help you obtain employment in the professional world. It asks you to become an active participant in your education as well as in the education of those around you. Why is this important?

Council of Chemical Research Survey (70 Companies)

Most Important Employee Characteristics

Communication Skills

Computer Skills

Most Important Employee Traits

Self Motivation

Problem Solving Skills

Team Player

To help facilitate this experience, the class (255) and the laboratory (256) will share the same role-playing groups, called a "Company". In class each company will sit together and have the same roles as in the lab, that is Manager, Chemist, Software, and Hardware, with many of the same responsibilities. Software and Hardware will operate the computational tools (computers or TI-86 calculators). Manager will interact with me (from the front of the room) to develop and use computational tools to define fundamental concepts in terms of your own lab data and experiences. Chemist will provide all of the data needed from the book and the tables it contains. Our class sessions will focus on small groups, with a high degree of decision making and interaction on your parts. In other words, we will have active sessions.

At numerous times throughout the semester we will go into a "workshop" session. The workshop mode will use 10 to 25 minutes of each class period and each lab of three or four companies will work on parts of the task. At the end of the sessions, I will ask people to present the results of their work to the rest of the class. EXCEL or TI-86's will serve as major calculational tools for all of our work together, both in class and lab.

An important professional tool that everyone will be required to purchase is the TI-86 calculator. This calculator will be used virtually every class period, and may be used on exams. The TI-86 will work out statistics, solve equations, perform successive approximations, and other numerical approaches to solving problems in equilibrium chemistry. The power of this inexpensive device has completely changed the nature of the modern analytical chemistry, making it now possible to do realistic modeling of such chemically driven systems as kidney stones, waste dumps, and acid rain. While other graphing calculators can do some of this work, they are harder to use, especially on exams.

The Class Calendar constitutes our most important class document; it contains the schedule of problem sets, exams, classes, workshops, readings, spreadsheets, and quizzes. Each of you has a copy of it (see page 7).

We will take some time in class today to discuss the various features of the calendar including:

The calendar shows that our course is a blend of activities, ranging from motor skills in the lab to symbol manipulation in the class and computer. Thus, it reflects the professional world well.

Class Point Breakdown

The way that points will be assigned for your grade in the course can be seen from the Class and Lab Calendar, and is summarized in the table below. Some words about these structure and point assignments follow.

participate in 25, 90 minute technical class sessions (25 * 2 points/class)

50 points

do 11 textbook based Problem Sets (11 * 15 points/set)

165 points

do 11 company spreadsheets (11 * 10 points/assignment)

110 points

take 3 class examinations (3 * 120 points/exam)

360 points

take 3 class quizzes (3 * 20 points/exam)

60 points

take 1 laboratory examination ( 1 * 55 points/exam)

55 points

take 1 final examination ( 1 * 200 points/exam)

200 points


Course Total: (50 + 165 + 110 + 360+ 60 + 55 + 200)

1000 points


Class Sessions:

The class sessions will reward active participation on your part. Sometimes this will be taking notes. Other times it will be doing numerical calculations. Often it will be looking up data in your book, entering it into a spreadsheet, or actually laying out a sheet. The 2 points that you will receive for each class session will be assigned by your Manager if she or he feels that you have been active, and did not sleep! If your Manager assigns you points, and I have observed you sleeping, I will talk to your Manager to determine why the points were assigned. In a word, our classes require alert participation in a variety of ways, and you will receive credit for such an effort.

Absences due to circumstances beyond your control will not cost you these points. Absences that you arrange as an elected decision, such as a medical school interview, are under your control, and cannot be credited. Your Manager will take all of this into account when making the point assignment. Class participation points are awarded individually.


Problem Sets:

Problem Sets are assigned once per week, and are listed as to content on the last page of the Class and Lab Calendar. Each problem set covers material we will be developing in class for the week assigned. The problems are taken from the class textbook, Quantitative Chemical Analysis, 5th Edition, by Daniel C. Harris. The problems are to be done individually, and each person in the company will receive an individual grade for each set. This does not mean that you should ignore opportunities to discuss problems within your company or with others in the class!

A typical problem set will usually contain around 10 multi-part problems, and will be graded to a normalized total of 15 points. Punctuality will be highly valued. Each of these will be weighted equally (say one point), no matter what their relative complexity is, and broken down as follows:


• Wrong answer, but a sincere effort made = 33%

• Wrong final answer, but at least half of the problem right = 50%

• Right answer, with work shown = 100%

• Punctuality factor:

• Handed in at the precise end of class on the due date = 1.00

• Handed in between zero and one class periods late = 0.50

• Handed in more than one class period late = 0.25


The individual parts of each problem will be scored this way, and the individual scores added to get a total (Example: 16 for a set with 9 problems and 2 parts per problem). This final score will then be expressed in terms of 15 points (16/18 = 0.888 and 0.888 * 15 = 13.3 points). In this way you will get the same amount of credit for working a simple problem as you do for working a complex one, making it a management decision on your part as to how much time to spend on any one problem, compared to another, both to accumulate a score and to prepare for the final examination.


Company Spreadsheets:

These are brief spreadsheets or small company projects taken from your book or created by your instructor, intended to help each person in the company interact with others to develop expertise in handing the class software. Spreadsheets, such as EXCEL, are core parts of information management systems, and everything you can learn about them now should be of immediate help to you when you go to work as a professional or pursue graduate school.

The Company Spreadsheets will be brief and will be done in a role-playing mode, as a company. The role assignments for the Company Spreadsheets will be the same as those assigned in the lab for laboratory experiments that particular week. Role assignments will rotate for Company Spreadsheets the same way they rotate for laboratory experiments. It will be up to Manager to insure that all responsibilities are met. It is in each person’s professional benefit to learn as much as possible about using computers in a professional situation by complete participation in the Company Spreadsheets. The responsibilities will be divided according to the following criteria:

Manager will be responsible for the written product and/or documentation of the group effort. This includes handing in the material on time, in a form that satisfies the grade expectations of all in the company. Manager will get the grade for the spreadsheet, and everyone else in the company will receive the same grade.

Chemist will acquire all formulas and data needed to put into the formulas required to meet the objectives of the spreadsheet. In the case where calculations are unnecessary, Chemist will be responsible for gathering all specific information, including library references and book selections.

Software and/or Hardware will be responsible for locating, launching, operating, and closing any program that Manager needs to use to process Chemist’s data to reach the spreadsheet’s objectives. She or he also will be responsible for locating and starting any computer needed, and for operating any printer Manager needs to output material to submit. In the event electronic mail is used to hand in the experiment, Software and/or Hardware will be responsible for making any connections to the network needed to effect the mail

The Company Spreadsheets are worth 10 points each, and will be scored according to the following criteria:


• Reached the stated objectives, and reported this in a concise, clear manner, using either EXCEL, a word processor, or Microsoft WORD, with all spelling corrected, with all graphs clearly labeled and organized in a professional manner (as in our book), and each page time/date stamped = 10 points

• Did not reach the stated objectives, but submitted a report explaining what was tried and where the trouble spots occurred, with all spelling corrected, and each page time/date stamped = 7.5 points.

• Did not reach the stated objectives, cannot say why, but tried to do it, and submitted only a simple report stating what was tried and what things did not work out at all = 5 points.

Punctuality factor:
  • Handed in on paper at the precise end of class on the due date = 1.00, or,
  • Handed in electronically before midnight on the due date = 1.00.
  • Handed in between zeroand one class periods late = 0.5
  • Handed in more than one class period late = 0.25

    The rationale here is to mimic professional forms of reporting out results from daily efforts. Company Spreadsheets are not intended to be particularly difficult, but occasionally circumstances combine to make them frustrating. For these reasons, it is up to Manager to get all the company together to work on them at any one time.


    Class Quizzes:

    There will be three quizzes given at critical times during the semester as scheduled in the calendar. These are 20 minutes long, count 20 points, and will be based on assigned text reading. Little original thought will be required to satisfactorily master a quiz. They will closely reflect the assigned reading. They are intended to bridge the time between exams, and to reward those who keep up with their reading on a regular basis.


    Class Examinations:

    Each examination is scheduled in advance in the Class and Lab Schedule, and will be held during class time. They will last a full 90 minutes. Typically they will be blended of a mix of material from all of the course activities for that exam periods, such as up to a maximum of four problems adapted from those assigned from the textbook, one original problem that has not been covered in the book as such, one task on interpretation of current lab results according to the material being studied in class, and one spreadsheet specifically assigned in the class calendar.

    In making up an exam, I estimate the time per problem or activity to be between ten and fifteen minutes, according to the complexity of the task, and assign the actual number of activities to fit within the 90 minute time interval, with some time for composure and checking.

    If a spreadsheet is on the exam, it will be complete and require mainly interpretation, not preparation or manipulation.

    The exams will be timed. They will be taken individually, and graded the same way. They will all be taken under the St. Olaf honor system.


    This semester you may use a TI-86 programmable calculator on the examinations. Equations and formulas may be programmed into the calculator before the exam, and used during the exam, without violating the honor code. Programs may be shared before the exam, but not during it. Other calculators are not prohibited, but they are not recommended.

    Based on recommendations from previous classes as a way to assure rapid return of results, Staff and Upper Management meet together in one session to grade all of the exams at once, using a correct answer sheet and interpretive consultations with Upper Management as guidelines. Each problem is graded individually, using a 50/30/20 scale:

    • Using the right material (5)

    • Solving for the right answer (3)

    • Heading in the right direction (2)

    • 30% - Correct Setup (6 on a 20 point problem)

    • Using the correct formula (3)

    • Making correct variable substitutions (2)

    • Doing the correct algebra (1)

    • 20% - Correct Mathematics (4 on a 20 point problem)

    • Correct numerics (2)

    • Graphs and Tables read correctly (2)


    Examinations will not be made up if missed, unless due to circumstances beyond your control. If you will miss an exam due to circumstances beyond your control, you must contact me prior to the exam. You can call my office, home or e-mail me. If neither of those work, please contact the Department office at x3104 or as a last resort, the Dean of Students office.


    Laboratory Examination:

    The laboratory examination will be handed out on the last day of class, will be done individually, will be open book, will contain 10 questions worth a total of 55 points, and will be concerned with interpretation of results from the complete lab. All of the questions will be based on (or actually taken from) the Management Interviews. If a Management Interview indicates the need for better technical understanding of the lab work or results, or some other basic problem, then it is more likely that such material will appear on the lab exam than if there is a complete understanding of all that was done, and why it produced the results it did.

    It will be Manager’s responsibility to make sure during the semester, and not just before the lab exam, that everyone in the Company knows what was discussed during these interviews, since that is the only effective way to prepare for this examination.

    Final Examination:

    The final examination will be a set of 8 problems essentially taken directly from your book, and from the problem sets that you have been doing, edited to fit into a two hour time frame. Some of the numerical values may be changed, but the problems will reflect what you have been working on all semester. Each problem will be weighted at 25 points, for a total examination weight of 200 points. The exam will be taken individually, under the St. Olaf honor system. Programmable, and pre-programmed calculators, such as the TI-86, may be used on the final examination. Our final exam time, as published in the current class and lab schedule, is slated for Thursday, December 17, 1998 at 2:30 p.m.

    Final Grade Scheme:

    I use a profit sharing approach to grade the entire course. It is very similar to a straight percentage system with a slight twist. This approach is based on your efforts to teach each other what you yourselves need to know, and doing so to such a degree you can raise the class average on an exam.

    The higher the class average, the higher the grade you will get for being average.

    The lower the class average, the lower the grade you will get for being average.

    Thus, there are two ways that you can get a high grade:

    • You can make no efforts to improve the class average, but instead always assure that you are much higher than the average.

    • You can work to raise the class average (within the honor code) by teaching others what you have learned, and just be average yourself.

    How Hard is it to Get a Good Grade?

    If the Average is:

    Then the grade for being average is:

    > 85%


    85 - 80%


    80 - 70%


    70 - 60%


    60 - 50%


    < 50%



    The above table explains the grading scale based on numbers. But it does not answer the question as to how big a struggle it will be to do well in the course, and how much stress usually accompanies the process of doing well. The answer is mixed.

    The material we cover in class and lab is not especially technically difficult, compared to other courses you may have taken. But, the course demands a great deal of organization. You must keep track of your work, and the work of others that will influence your work, on a regular basis, and not fall behind. If you wait until close to deadlines to hand in work, or to prepare for examinations, then the stress level of this course will be very high. But, if you keep up, do your work on a regular basis, then it will not. I value good work, done sensibly well, on a punctual basis. It is that simple.