Syllabus as web page

General Chemistry II,  NSC505                                                            Spring 2013

Instructor                   Todd Smith

Location                      Science 216

Days & Time               MWF 9:30-10:20

Text                             Principles of general chemistry, by M. Silberberg

Office & contact          Sci 110, x676,


Course Description

            The central topic of general chemistry is the composition of matter and transformations of matter, and we will continue to focus on how these microscopic transformations underlie our macroscopic experiences. In the second half of this course we will examine in detail models of chemical bonds, and topics such as reaction kinetics, acid-base equilibria, and electrochemistry. We will also explore some aspects of organic chemistry, and environmental chemistry will continue to be a secondary theme of the course as we relate all of these topics to the effects of human activity on our environment.

            We will start each chapter with an overview & presentation of selected topics, followed by discussions of the chapter, problem-solving sessions and homework review.

                  Prerequisite:  General Chemistry I, NSC158

Goals of the course

  • Through this course students should:
  • Appreciate the connections between chemistry and other physical and life sciences
  • Gain insight into the behavior of matter at the atomic scale, and the connection between this behavior and our macroscopic experiences
  • Be better able to prepare and deliver an oral presentation
  • Have gained greater ability and confidence in problem-solving
  • Be prepared for intermediate study in other aspects of chemistry and biology

Grading Policy

Students are expected to attend all lectures and to complete all reading assignments. There will be two 1-hour exams during class (100 pts each), weekly homework assignments (20 pts each), a 20 minute oral presentation (100 pts), and a final exam (100 pts). The grade received in the course will be the ratio of points earned to points possible: 90% & above = A, 80-89% = B, 70-79% = C, 60-69% = D. Diligent and conscientious participation in class and on assignments will boost borderline grades to the higher grade.

            If extenuating circumstances will prevent you from taking an exam notify me as soon as possible so that we can make alternative arrangements for administering the exam.

Oral presentation – during class, 4/18 & 4/21

            The general topic for your presentations is pharmaceutical and personal-care products (PPCPs) that end up in the environment. These include, for example, drugs that are ingested and then excreted, or old prescriptions that are dumped down the toilet. Other examples include compounds used in shampoos and soaps that are washed down the shower drain. Ingredients from many of these products end up in lakes and streams, including drinking water supplies.  For this presentation I want you to focus on one compound in personal-care products. Present an argument that addresses the question:  What effect does long-term, low-level exposure to this compound have on our health? Your presentation must describe the compound, its chemistry, its function in the consumer product, and potential consequences of its distribution in the environment (e.g., how does it affect biological systems?).

This topic is connected to several sections of the course, including shapes of molecules, intermolecular forces, and organic chemistry. Draw on your chemistry background to provide some details of the chemistry of the compound in your presentation. You must turn-in an outline for your presentation, and it must include citations for at least two articles from peer-reviewed scientific journals. 


            Assignment                                      due dates

  • Topic paragraph & 3 sources    2/15, in class
  • Outline, with argument              3/13, in class
  • Oral presentation                        4/24 & 4/26, in class


Projected course schedule

Week of




8 & 9

Welcome back, intro, & first assignment




9 & 10

Models of chemical bonds, electronegativity, and why CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

The shapes of molecules – what are the shapes of CH4 and H2O?






Theories of covalent bonding; VSEPR & MO theory







Intermolecular forces: liquids, solids, phase changes;

Green chemistry & phase change materials








The properties of mixtures: solutions & colloids

Presentation topic para. & 3 sources due 2/15






Catch-up, exam 1 on Monday 2/25






Organic compounds and atomic properties of carbon







Reaction kinetics: rates & mechanisms of chemical reactions

Presentation outline with argument due 3/13




Spring Break








Reaction kinetics continued






Equilibrium: the extent of chemical reactions






Catch-up, exam 2 on Monday 4/15







Acid-base equilibria

Presentations on Wednesday & Friday (4/24 & 26)






Thermodynamics: why do some reactions occur spontaneously?







Electrochemistry: chemical change and electrical work;

Fuel cells & solar panels




5/9, 10


Reading days

5/11, 13, 14


Exam days

Last modified: Thursday, January 24, 2013, 12:20 PM