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Wondering what it is about chemistry...


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... that makes folks dislike it so much. :)

 

Truly, though, as someone who was enthralled with it from the first moment of the first chemistry class I ever had (actually, even before - I knew I was starting chemistry in the fall of Grade 11 and read through the whole "Chemistry" entry in our encylopedia set at home during the summer - yeah - I'm that weird) I would like to hear from others what it is/was about the subject that made it so boring/frustrating/difficult/feared/hated. I just thought that if folks wouldn't mind sharing (either from your own experiences or those of your dc) as much detail as you can about exactly WHY the chemistry experience was so terrible, it would be easier to find ways to alleviate the boredom/frustration/difficulty/fear/hate and would help myself and other chem people to more accurately give recommendations. Or is there no way to fix it and is chem always destined to be despised?

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I realize now that I had bad Chemistry teachers in high school.

So I wasn't well prepared in Chemistry when I got to college, and

had to work SUPER hard to get good grades. Chem Lab in college was particularly

hard since our high school labs had been next to nothing--there was equipment

all right, but we didn't do anything that meant anything. Organic Chemistry in college

was hard too...I remember dropping the class just before the drop date because

I didn't get the electron transfers in the Lewis diagrams at all. The next semester

I took it again with a different prof. and did great. But I was very poorly prepared

in Chemistry.

 

(Interestingly, my high

school was great at math--the math was centralized so everyone took the

same tests in a big testing room that was managed by the math testing people.

So I had a great math background)

 

The Chemistry was just led by whatever teacher with no departmental supervision.

 

So I think maybe the reason people dislike Chemistry is because they don't have

the solid basis for it, and then it is very hard. If you work hard, you can

make up for your deficiencies like I did in college. But if you don't work

hard, you are just bad at it, which makes you dislike it even more...

so it's a lack of strong background I think...

maybe...

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I can tell you my reason I never liked, and still dislike chemistry after having covered it with DD last year.

Which should be odd, since I am a physicist and love physics and math, so it clearly has nothing to do with a bad math background or lack of abstract thinking. There is a very logical explanation:

 

What I dislike about introductory chemistry is that initially many facts are presented without explanation and just have to be memorized.

Take for example solubility rules: you memorize that all chlorides soluble except those with Co, Pb, Hg, AU; no hydroxides soluble except for Na, Ka... but an explanation for this is not given until several months later.

Stoichiometry is usually very early in the course; the student is given some random reactions he has no idea why they occur and asked to calculate the grams or moles - to me, it is utterly pointless to do so if I do not know WHY the things react and why I should care. (Aside form the fact that stoichiometry takes up a lot of room even though it is a very simple concept- books and courses dwell on it as if it were rocket science. ) The reactions, and the reasons for the reactions, are not explained until much later.

 

That is it in a nutshell. I would wish for a chemistry that starts with the atomic model, periodic table, thermodynamics, kinetics - and THEN talk about chemical reactions.

 

Also, I realize that a chemistry course must cover nomenclature, but typically this is the very first thing the student sees. So he starts out the course by memorizing a whole lot of terms that have no meaning to him (since he doe snot know anything about chemistry yet!) - the impression that chemistry is an unrelated assortment of stuff to be memorized is created from the very outset.

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I didn't know it was hated! Actually, my high school chemistry class was the first time I found science of any kind interesting. I'm not sure I could articulate why I enjoyed it. Perhaps it was just the enthusiasm of my wonderful teacher. I do know I loved the *quantitative* aspect of chemistry. Up until then, everything in my science education had felt very vague and unsystematic. Suddenly, here were numbers and charts and equations and things to measure in the lab not just look at or draw.

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Note: I did like Chemistry. I just had a hard time catching up in college.

But I can understand people hating it.

 

At our co-op, there are a whole group of kids who dislike Chemistry because they

can't do Algebra. The kids who can do simple Algebra are doing well at it;

the others aren't.

 

There is another co-op in town where the teacher is requiring students do

well in Algebra 1 before taking her class.

 

Maybe it depends on the teacher too? We will be doing Chemistry next year, so

DC doesn't know yet if it's something to like or dislike.

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I never disliked chemistry or physics itself, I mostly had teachers who themselves did not understand the subject they taught, were not interested in teaching and in two cases did not think that girls were capable of anything more than a D regardless of test scores.

 

However, I also had teachers whose lives revolved around science in a positive way and even though I only had them for a few months, they made me think that there had to be something more to science than what I was seeing and all I had to do was to discover what that something was.

 

I finally did in college when I took mineralogy and hydrology and began to understand how chemistry/physics were the sciences that put the universe in order and how really systematic it was.

 

Up to that point biology was my favorite science probably because it was more applied. Like you said, chemistry/physics as a subject were always presented in a fragmented manner and until college I never managed to put the pieces together to make sense.

 

When we pulled our children out of school last year I vowed to not make the mistake of presenting sciences in a vacuum. It has a different meaning for each of my children but so far so good. They not only enjoy the sciences (well, the boys prefer physics and chemistry while my daughter has a greater interest in biology and chemistry), they have realized how much bigger the world is with a thorough understanding of them.

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What I dislike about introductory chemistry is that initially many facts are presented without explanation and just have to be memorized.

 

When I think about it, this is probably the root cause of my dislike of chemistry.

 

I was the queen of disliking chemistry. I don't even remember if I took high school chemistry (lame education), but I signed up for college science courses right and left, or picked up texts on science topics, looking for something interesting, and quickly dropped most of them because right away, they started talking about chemicals -- astronomy, nutrition, all of them did. And to me, if they started telling me what chemicals were in the planets, or the foods, it just meant they were going to teach a boring class.

 

But when I try to pinpoint why I have disliked it so much, I am not sure my thinking is representative of many others - I tend to have some oddball ways of thinking about things. However, in the end, if I really think it through, it'll probably be what regentrude said, and that probably does apply to more kids who dislike chem.

 

I mean, it's not intuitive to want to know chemistry, at least for most of us. Biology of course will have things that apply to our bodies and our lives. Physics as well. But chemistry?

 

First of all, most of chemistry is invisible and a ton of it is theoretical, with things that you can't examine yourself. I maybe was influenced too much by the late 60s when I grew up, but I'm skeptical of "the latest theory" of anything, and prefer to wait until it all shifts some more. Apologia actually helped draw me in here, by at least telling me when something's never been seen. I like to be given that courtesy, and then I tend to listen better :)

 

Secondly, chem class builds and the student just has to have faith that there is a point to all of this. And he even has to have even a faith that when he finds out the point, it will be worth all the boring exercises to get there. I am a big fan of algebra, but on the way there, if a student just learns the very basics of math, he will have something real that is valuable. However, in chemistry, it's almost the opposite. What good is it memorizing a bunch of letters, inside squares, then squeezing into those squares more and more tiny numbers and dots and things, if you never get to the end-point and see how it all comes together so that you understand what chemicals bond together & which don't, so you might know, maybe, what chemicals in a laundry detergent would help get the dirt out, and what would help keep it suspended, or something practical like that. I haven't seen a chemistry course that starts with what the point is. But even in that case, would a student feel it was going to be worth it to go through 3,000 bits of memorization and computation in order to get there? I'm not sure. Maybe I'd rather just use soap and water, and take my chances.

 

Some of the homeschool authors and the Christian materials have helped me get along with chem, and that's probably just because it brings in things I'm interested in. For instance, learning about water, and realizing it was created as very unique from most of the rest of creation, and that uniqueness is often rooted in its chemical properties... that got me listening to the properties. Even just thinking that God made everything from a small group of elements, which I can look at in pretty picture books and admire for their variety and beauty, helped me a bit (skipping over all the lame ones that seem close to man-made, and narrow down the periodic table a bit). That creates awe and interest in me. Or, learning that certain gases are lighter than oxygen, so they don't sit down here long which would suffocate us -- that made the task of distinguishing the different gases at least somewhat interesting to me, when previously they were just a list to memorize and I'd rather not, thank you very much. Some of the Spectrum labs have also done this for me, showing me things that really changed form and color and properties, and seeing how it ties into the places on the periodic table and such. I'm not totally sure that my high schoolers are quite as wowed, though, since they aren't making all the connections to past experiences that an adult has.

 

However, it's tricky, because if a textbook spends a bunch of chatty time trying to draw me in with vignettes, or a lab does something cool but doesn't give me a reason to learn all that other stuff, then it's just back to the same amount of boring chemistry facts. Ideally the teacher would present real facts, a real piece of the science, math, whatever you need to learn for the year, but something that I *want* to dig into and understand to the extent that you must dig in in chemistry. But I wouldn't want it to be extras that make the course even more endless?!

 

It was interesting to think through an answer to your question, but I'm not sure how much my convoluted thinking represents any of our high schoolers. Maybe, though, it's just a particular example of the general idea that some kids need to see the big picture in order to get interested in the details.

 

HTH,

Julie

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Interesting replies! I hear what many of you are saying - it's almost as though chemistry is difficult to learn in a linear fashion - KWIM? Example - in the integrated science courses for Grades 9 and 10 here in Ontario, one of the quarters is chemistry. In the chem section of Grade 9, we teach the students the historical models of the atom up to the Bohr-Rutherford model (the "solar system" model of the atom). We tell students that the first circular energy level can contain up to 2 electrons (1pair), the 2nd circular level can contain up to 8 electrons (4 pairs), and the 3rd circular level can contain up to 8 electrons (4 pairs) so they can draw Bohr-Rutherford diagrams for the first 20 elements and they get experience in thinking about the relationship between the number of protons, the number of electrons, and the placement of electrons for simple atoms. But that isn't exactly true (the levels are not, in fact, "circles" and the 3rd energy level can hold up to 18 electrons but doesn't always :)). The problem is that, in order to give a more complete explanation, I would have to get in to the quantum mechanical description of the atom and, in Grade 9, most students aren't conceptually ready to deal with that kind of abstract stuff. So, as chem teachers, we're stuck - we can't teach the "basics" first because it's too abstract for the majority of students at that level but by teaching the less abstract stuff first, the students are required to "just believe me" until they're conceptually ready to learn the abstract "why" behind things. I think there's also a difference between how teachers approach chem depending on how much chem background they have. I put "pairs" in above when describing the electron arrangement in an atom. I do that, even at the Grade 9 Integrated Science level, because eventually in an upper level chem class, the teacher will start talking about paired and unpaired electrons and their importance in chemical bonding. Many teachers in Grade 9 will simply draw 8 electrons equi-spaced around the circular energy level and don't think to draw them in pairs. To me, this creates unnecessary confusion for the students when they get to the upper levels of chem. I'm not sure if I think to do this at the Grade 9 level because I'm an "obsessed with details" kind of person :) or if it's because I have 60 credit hours of university chemistry (because I have a chem degree and an ed degree) so I tend to think "further ahead" where someone with just an ed degree is only required to have 30 credit hours of uni chem in order to be qualified to teach high school chem in Ontario. Don't know - this has probably been debated long before I came along and will be debated long after I'm gone... :)

 

I did an "experiment" once - I taught the basics of quantum electron configuration to one of my Grade 9 classes just to see if it helped them or scared them. I used marbles as electrons and beakers as the "orbitals". (I also use the highly technical quantum mechanical "people in seats on a bus" explanation when I explain it to honours chem students but I won't go into detail about that here. :)) Out of 30 university-track students, about 3 of them seemed to have that "ahhh... that makes sense" look on their face. The rest of them either had a "deer in the headlights" look or an "eyes glazed over" look. :laugh:

 

How Organic Chem is taught is also a frustration to me. Organic is SOOOOOOOOOO much easier to understand when it is taught from a "mechanism" standpoint rather than just memorizing a zillion different catalysts and reactions and their products. Teaching from a mechanism standpoint, though, is more time-consuming and requires understanding of electronegativity and polarity and there are so many topics that the powers-that-be have decided "should" be taught in high school chem that only a week or so can be spared for organic. I sometimes think that organic should just be cut from high school chem altogether unless it can be given the time it needs. The problem is that organic chem is probably the one aspect of chemistry that people can "see" because it's the chem you see around you everywhere (if you can name more than 3 things in the room around you right now that aren't polymers, I'd be surprised :)). Plus, organic is just fun. (Slime or Silly Putty, anyone?)

 

Bleh. Maybe I'm just talking in circles and I've confused everyone even more. I doubt that I've solved any of the problems people have with chem. Sigh. If anyone has actually managed to make it this far, kudos! :laugh:

 

On a side note, I've got flowcharts created to help with nomenclature. There are etymological reasons for the prefixes and suffixes used (see the Online Etymology Dictionary http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?l=i) but most students just don't care. :) If anyone would like a copy of the flowcharts, just PM me and I'll e-mail them out. (They were originally made for Reg Chem students and don't cover co-ordination compounds, organic compounds, or naming of acids but they cover the basics of ionic and covalent naming of binary compounds and compounds containing polyatomic ions.)

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Ultimately I hate it because it made me abandon my biology major. In a small liberal-arts college where the biology major was geared toward pre-med students, both inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry were requirements for the major. However, I wanted to be an ecologist, and for that profession these courses, while helpful, were not really necessary. So when I realized there was no way I'd do well in chemistry, I talked to my advisor and switched to a minor in biology and a major in environmental science. I was also clued in to the fact that at this college the intro chemistry classes were made particularly difficult to weed out people who weren't pre-med material. (I think the general sense was at this particular college there were a lot more students who went on to become doctors than chemists.) I realize now that if I had gone to a large university, I could have been an ecology or natural resources or botany major without the chemistry requirements. Hindsight.

 

My high school chemistry was weak (classical high school with emphasis on the language arts and history, science was the poor stepchild), but even with a better preparation I would have been lost. (However with chemistry every year like they do in some European countries, instead of one year in high school, I might have internalized enough to succeed). The college class was taught parts-to-whole. There was no big picture, no hooks to hang the information on. So though I could (sometimes) balance equations, I had no idea why I might ever need to balance equations.

 

Another problem was the intro class was team-taught by the department. Our particular class of about a hundred students did abysmally. The curve was such that sometimes a 45 on a test was the top score! Most of the first and last third of the class was spent watching the lower-ranked prof.'s back for 90 minutes as he wrote equation after equation on the board. Then during the middle of the semester, the head of the department, a man known for his pioneering work with microscale laboratories or some such thing took over the class. The tenor of the teaching changed. This man was excited. He made connections for us. The class average SHOT UP! (Only to fall again when the third prof took over.)

 

Ultimately, I found the chemistry in the geology courses far more "concrete" if you will. I would actually recommend that geology be taught right before chemistry for this reason. You can see the results of chemical reactions, hold them in your hands, test their properties and understand how the elemental composition and chemical bonds are responsible for those properties. Geology rocks.

 

Finally, I think there is just such a great volume of information in the average chemistry class that it appears an impossible undertaking to most students. How many days? 180 days of one-two hour classes and homework. Is it realistic to think they can master a cross-section of the entire discipline in that scant amount of time? Really, chemistry (as well as the other sciences) should not be taught once in high school. It should be taught all four years of high school. This will help with the retention of the material that just has to be memorized and increase the time that can be spent with the why's and big picture, allowing students to make a mental map of the discipline and locate all the bits of data they learn along the way on that map.

 

I am planning Conceptual Chemistry as my son's main science for 8th grade next year. (I do one textbook science per year and living books for the other 3 sciences.) We are doing Conceptual Physics very nicely right now. But I dread next year. Really dread it. But I figure he can take it again in high school. The more exposure the better.

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Finally, I think there is just such a great volume of information in the average chemistry class that it appears an impossible undertaking to most students. How many days? 180 days of one-two hour classes and homework. Is it realistic to think they can master a cross-section of the entire discipline in that scant amount of time? Really, chemistry (as well as the other sciences) should not be taught once in high school. It should be taught all four years of high school. This will help with the retention of the material that just has to be memorized and increase the time that can be spent

 

 

AMEN!

 

When I went to school in my home country, all sciences were taught concurrently. Biology was introduced in 5th, physics was added in 6th, chemistry in 7th, and we took all three through 12th grade, with about 3 periods weekly for each science (they have now changed the system so that students can drop a science in the upper grades, but they are still all taught since middle grades)

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What I dislike about introductory chemistry is that initially many facts are presented without explanation and just have to be memorized.

 

I see that in math and all other science subject too for public schools all the way to high school..

 

a. incompetent teaching - chem is visual, not verbal. Get the models out if you can't figure out how to use your computer so you can show as well as tell. I cringe when the kid can't show me the shape of a molecule, but is supposed to have the angles memorized.

b. classmates with poor math skills, which cause the teachers to omit units as they remediate topics such as scientific notation

c. there is an unstated assumption that you mastered your middle school physical science and earth science chemistry units. I didn't have that preparation, neither did one of my sons so that meant we had to work harder.

d. expectation of a good memory and ability to accept without proof or explanation.

 

I agree that is a common problem with the schools here too.

 

Finally, I think there is just such a great volume of information in the average chemistry class that it appears an impossible undertaking to most students. How many days? 180 days of one-two hour classes and homework. Is it realistic to think they can master a cross-section of the entire discipline in that scant amount of time? Really, chemistry (as well as the other sciences) should not be taught once in high school. It should be taught all four years of high school. This will help with the retention of the material that just has to be memorized and increase the time that can be spent with the why's and big picture, allowing students to make a mental map of the discipline and locate all the bits of data they learn along the way on that map.

 

Mine was the intergrated/concurrent system in Asia so I had

1hr tutorial, 2hr laboratory for 9th-10th grade, (per week, 40 weeks a school year) = 120 hours per year

1hr tutorial, 3hr laboratory, 3hr lectures for 11th-12th grade (per week, 40 weeks a school year) = 280 hours per year

That works out to 400 hours per subject for Chemistry, Physics and Biology.

My earth science was separatedly covered under Geography for 9th-12th grade.

Biology, Chemistry and Physics fundamentals are taught in a spiral approach since 3rd grade and just called science

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The single most prevalent item that plagued my co-op chemistry kids was the fact that they had not been exposed to the metric system prior to high school chemistry or they only had a very superficial understanding of it. The second most prevalent problem was the inability to set up a problem as a unit cancellation type of problem. So...does that make it boil down to a mathematics issue?

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Really, chemistry (as well as the other sciences) should not be taught once in high school. It should be taught all four years of high school.

 

:iagree:

Not saying that the Ontario system is oh-so-wonderful, but we do have integrated science for Grades 9 and 10 (each grade is split into four quarters - physics, chem, bio, and earth/space science) and then Physics, Chem, and Bio are each offered as Grade 11U courses (Reg courses) and again as Grade 12U (additional topics and more depth and difficulty so that, by the end of Grades 11 and 12, students have the equivalent of an Honours class). I believe Earth/Space Science is only offered as a 12U course.

 

The single most prevalent item that plagued my co-op chemistry kids was the fact that they had not been exposed to the metric system prior to high school chemistry or they only had a very superficial understanding of it. The second most prevalent problem was the inability to set up a problem as a unit cancellation type of problem. So...does that make it boil down to a mathematics issue?

 

 

Not sure if all math curricula teach dimensional analysis - they should. :) Although (and I say this while ducking)... I don't tend use dimensional analysis myself when I solve chem problems. It wasn't how I was taught back in high school or uni so it's not my "go-to" way of problem solving. It IS important to learn and I definitely teach it to my dd - don't get me wrong!

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i actually loved chemistry and took 2 years in high school. but the book i'm using for my son now is terrible! it started off with stoichiometry and then talked about calculating concentrations and finally got to the periodic table . . in a totally surface way. i mean, it mentioned the table and then talked about 3 kinds of elements and moves on. i mean, i think it should start with the atom and move on to the table, which makes everything make sense, and then everything should be taught from the perspective of how this makes sense from the structure of the atom and how the table makes that clear.

 

my daughter said that in her college chem class she had to memorize the names of ions and such . . . why would anyone think thats a useful exercise for a non-major?

 

science textbooks need to be revamped big time imo. tho the one im using that i hate now is from singapore.

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I can't remember if I shared this resource before... Apologies if I have.

 

This fellow, Mark Bishop, has a free chem text online:

http://preparatorychemistry.com/

From the website:

An Introduction to Chemistry

by Mark Bishop

*A textbook intended for use in beginning chemistry courses that have no chemistry prerequisite. The text was written for students who want to prepare themselves for general college chemistry, for students seeking to satisfy a science requirement for graduation, and for students in health-related or other programs that require an introduction to general chemistry.

*There are two versions of the text. The atoms-first version provides a more complete description of atomic theory, chemical bonding, and chemical calculations early. The chemistry-first version has a early emphasis on descriptions of the structure of matter and the nature of chemical changes, postponing the description of unit conversions and chemical calculations. Both versions are available as regular printed books, but they are also available on the Internet with no usernames and no passwords.

*There are two versions of the text. Each version is available in four forms: (1) as hard-bound, full-color books, (2) in PDF form, (3) in an eBook form for iPads, iPhones, and Android tablets and phones, and (4) as PowerPoint-like presentations with voice.

*The two versions of An Introduction to Chemistry present the same information, but they do it in a different order.

*Many instructors like getting to chemical reactions early, and students like postponing the math-related topics of chemistry. To make this possible, the chemistry-first version postpones the math topics until mid-book (Chapters 8, 9, 10, and 13 mostly), presents a brief introduction of atomic theory and bonding early (Chapters 2 and 3) that is completed later (Chapters 11 and 12), and gets to chemical changes earlier than other texts (Chapters 4-6). (Chapter 8 on unit conversions was written so it could be presented early...after Chapter 1.)

*Many instructors and students prefer to move from simple to more complex...atoms to elements to bonding to compounds to chemical changes...in a more systematic way. The atoms-first version provides a more complete description of atomic theory and bonding early (Chapters 3-5) and describes chemical reactions later (Chapters 7-9). It also presents the math-related topics earlier. It has two fewer chapters because the chemistry-first version's chapter on energy was separated into parts and put into two other chapters, and a similar thing was done with the chemistry-first chapter on mole calculations dealing with chemical formulas.

 

I know folks have mentioned some of the confusion of chemistry has stemmed from it being presented "out-of-order", so to speak. Just thought these texts might address some of that. Plus, they're free. :) I think the "atoms-first" version might be more like what Regentrude and Dbmamaz are suggesting.

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science textbooks need to be revamped big time imo. tho the one im using that i hate now is from singapore.

 

 

Which one are you using?

For my singapore Cambridge 'A' levels chemistry (12th grade), my school used

A-Level Chemistry by E. N. Ramsden

A Level Course in Chemistry by J. G. R Briggs

 

I have not take a good look at the half-price book stores for chemistry text yet. Maybe I have to check out the Zumdahl book.

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Not sure if all math curricula teach dimensional analysis - they should. :) Although (and I say this while ducking)... I don't tend use dimensional analysis myself when I solve chem problems. It wasn't how I was taught back in high school or uni so it's not my "go-to" way of problem solving. It IS important to learn and I definitely teach it to my dd - don't get me wrong!

 

 

I agree. I never learned it either but it was just sort of intuitive to me. But those students who weren't as math adept seemed to need that. Once they were able to set up those problems their grades improved.

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Which one are you using?

For my singapore Cambridge 'A' levels chemistry (12th grade), my school used

A-Level Chemistry by E. N. Ramsden

A Level Course in Chemistry by J. G. R Briggs

 

I have not take a good look at the half-price book stores for chemistry text yet. Maybe I have to check out the Zumdahl book.

 

I'm using 'chemistry matters' which i bought from the singaporemath.com website. i realized its really a study guide to the standardized tests there . . . not imo a great intro for someone who isnt going in to chemistry, but also SO different from what I remember. a full chapter on salts, a full chapter on metal, a full chapter on ammonia .. . when i look for youtube videos to support the topics, they are almost all asian videos, not american, because this is their typical sequence, but not ours.

 

Rather to my surprise, tho, he found todays stuff about acids and bases quite interesting. moreso than i did, i think.

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I'm using 'chemistry matters' which i bought from the singaporemath.com website. i realized its really a study guide to the standardized tests there . . .

 

 

It is a textbook for 9th~10th grade leading to the Cambridge 'O' levels exam there. The chemistry teachers at that level are all subject experts and the textbooks are more for revision than for learning. No retrenchment there :)

Another factor is that the school laboratories are very well equipped and supplement the science courses. We have 1.5hrs laboratory exams for Cambridge 'O' levels exam for the sciences.

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BTW, anyone ever notice that Chemistry more than any other branch of science feels a need to name all theorems and laws after people. Physics seems far less quick to attribute a principle to an individual without including what the principle is (Geez, even Newton and Einstein don't get exclusive billing like Avagadro and Charles). Maybe, it is all that working with symbols, so much shorthand thinking leaves one less willing to remember a longer expression of a principle.

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BTW, anyone ever notice that Chemistry more than any other branch of science feels a need to name all theorems and laws after people. Physics seems far less quick to attribute a principle to an individual without including what the principle is (Geez, even Newton and Einstein don't get exclusive billing like Avagadro and Charles). Maybe, it is all that working with symbols, so much shorthand thinking leaves one less willing to remember a longer expression of a principle.

 

Do you really think so?

On top of my hat, I can think of all these named laws just from within a single semester of introductory physics (2nd semester: electricity and magnetism)

Ohm's Law, Gauss' Law, Maxwell's Equations, Biot-Sarvat's Law, Ampere's Law, Kirchhoff's Laws...

 

In quantum mechanics, you'll have

Schroedinger equation, Heisenberg's Uncertainty relation, Planck's Constant, Bohr's radius, the Pauli exclusion principle, Ising model, Fermi distribution, Dirac equation

 

and in thermodynamics

the Maxwell distribution, Nernst's law, the Boltzmann constant....

 

I think your impression that physics does not name things after people is not correct.

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Do you really think so?

On top of my hat, I can think of all these named laws just from within a single semester of introductory physics (2nd semester: electricity and magnetism)

Ohm's Law, Gauss' Law, Maxwell's Equations, Biot-Sarvat's Law, Ampere's Law, Kirchhoff's Laws...

 

In quantum mechanics, you'll have

Schroedinger equation, Heisenberg's Uncertainty relation, Planck's Constant, Bohr's radius, the Pauli exclusion principle, Ising model, Fermi distribution, Dirac equation

 

and in thermodynamics

the Maxwell distribution, Nernst's law, the Boltzmann constant....

 

I think your impression that physics does not name things after people is not correct.

 

I bolded to demonstrate, note part of the parlance is at the very least a reference to what the principle will address. Then look at Chemistry, it will be Name's law, _____' theorem without specificity of the what in relation to the who. Chemistry doesn't tend to say the law or theorem of what. Many Chemistry texts for example would not say "Boyle's law of inverse proportionality" as a whole phrase. They would simply say "Boyle's law"

 

Note this quote: Equation (5.3) is known as Charle's and Gay-Lussac's law, or simply Charle's law, which states that the volume of a fixed amount of gas maintained at contant pressure is directly proportional to the absolute temperature of the gas." (p. 179 Chang's Chemistry 9th ed). Or note this: "Hess's Law can be stated as follows: When reactants are converted to products, the change in enthalpy is the same whether the reaction takes place in one step or a series of steps. (Chang's Chemistry 9th page 248). These examples are typed as the appear.

 

Physics laws have just that wee bit more specificity of what the law/theorem addresses as part of the parlance. "Bohr's Radius" hints to orbits/circles, "Bohr's Law" is wide open. I just found long ago it helped me to follow the Physics naming process in Chemistry.

 

That is why I asked. I wondered if anyone had noticed the trend or if it was just something that struck me.

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Good teachers and good texts can make all the difference in the world when it comes to understanding chemistry well. My son has a wonderful teacher who has a PhD in chemistry and worked for years as a chemist; however, he has a difficult time conveying to the class what he expects them to know, especially info that is not in the book. The other day the kids took a test which had the usual problems and then at the end they had to write a two-page essay on what my son felt was an obscure topic not covered in the book and barely touched upon in class. The kids in this class are all motivated and know how to study, but the teacher has trouble explaining the odd tidbits he wants them to know.

 

Chemistry was one of my favorite classes. I can still remember a good deal of it and do the problems. I have an easy time memorizing, though, and I think that helps. I also had excellent teachers who were available before and after school.

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It is a textbook for 9th~10th grade leading to the Cambridge 'O' levels exam there. The chemistry teachers at that level are all subject experts and the textbooks are more for revision than for learning. No retrenchment there :)

Another factor is that the school laboratories are very well equipped and supplement the science courses. We have 1.5hrs laboratory exams for Cambridge 'O' levels exam for the sciences.

 

yup . . . not a useful thing for a US homeschooler imo . . . wish i'd known that before i bought it. i actually bought it a few years before i needed it . . .due to a failed coop . . . long story. if i knew then lol .. .

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I actually went to college thinking I would be a chemistry major. It wasn't the class room work that turned me off, it was chem lab.

 

I had two big problems, first the chemicals themselves scared me in a deep way. I never got past being handed a gallon jug of hydrochloric acid that I had to measure 2 ml out of.

 

BUT I am also not a detail oriented, super accurate person, especially when it comes to fine motor activities, so doing the titration to determine some mysterious substance at the end of class was tedious in the extreme to me. I must have had to do it several times to get the answer and then we had to enter it on punch cards, and guess what, I couldn't get those typed up so the computer would handle them either. I actually got an incomplete because of those stupid computer cards and had to come back after Christmas break and enter another card.

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i accidentally took intro chem in college . . . i took the test to test out of it, but when i went to get my results, the woman was flirting with someone and ignoring me, and finally muttered something about '13'. I assumed that that was my test score, and that if it had been good enough to switch to a higher level chem class, she would have made that clear. I was bored out of my skull all semester, and it wasnt until towards the end of the semester that it dawned on me . . i was taking chem 12 . . she'd told me to sign up for chem 13! I was trying to go in to EE at the time, so i had to take 4 semesters of physics, and that was the end of chem for me. which was a shame, as i actually preferred chem.

 

the lab - i finally discovered that i was really only graded on the notebook. if the experiment succeeded or failed didnt matter, as long as I filled in the notebook in the proper format and gave reasonable explanations for what happened vs what should have happened. not sure if thats how most college labs work? this was at Penn state

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My oldest son says to tell you that not having strong enough math skills was problematic, but for him, the turn-off was the particular teacher he had. It was an 85 minute class where the teacher lectured in monotone for most of the class. There were no texts, only handouts which were read after the lecture. It is also a subject where if you get behind, it can be difficult to catch up. His school has proficiency grading which means even if a student gets a 90% on a test, he can still fail it if the problem missed was a core question. He must retake the section to try to improve his grade. This happens through making arrangements with the teacher. Anyway, low engagement, getting lost early on, and not asking for help was disastrous. He retook it the following year, read the text, did the work, and had little trouble with it. Of course, I was standing there with ruler in hand...

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BTW, anyone ever notice that Chemistry more than any other branch of science feels a need to name all theorems and laws after people. Physics seems far less quick to attribute a principle to an individual without including what the principle is (Geez, even Newton and Einstein don't get exclusive billing like Avagadro and Charles). Maybe, it is all that working with symbols, so much shorthand thinking leaves one less willing to remember a longer expression of a principle.

 

 

This is because chemists are inherently lazy. :D

 

Look at how we "communicate" most of the stuff we're working with - in shorthand symbols!! I tell ya - if I had to write out the full chemical name every time I needed to mention a compound, "I" would have dropped chemistry after the first semester. :eek: ;)

 

Yup - lazy.

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What textbook are they using?

The four college texts I have used or looked at all teach nomenclature, stoichiometry and solutions before thermodynamics and chemical bonding.

 

 

Actually you would probably like the Swiss chemistry book....

 

Ch 1 Study of matter, mixtures and pure chemicals - including changing state, temperature and heat, methods of separation...

 

Ch 2 Atomic structure - including history, three key experiments, characteristics of atoms, elementary particles, elements, isotopes and electrostatic forces

 

Ch 3 Atomic models - including various types

 

Ch 4 is classification

Ch 5 chemical bonds - including metalic, ionic, covalent, electronegativity

Ch 6 molecular bonds

Ch 7 nomenclature - inorganic

Ch 8 - reactions and equations

 

etc...

 

It's this one Chimie: Preparation au bac et a la maturite

 

Dd did the first three chapters before starting GPB with some experiments from Illustrated Guide....it was a good intro (besides other books like Spectrum)

 

Joan

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had no reason to hate Chemistry until I took it at CC with a teacher that many students loved. I hated that man by the end of our time together.

 

I agree that he is likeable, but he was a horrible teacher for me. He made jokes that I couldn't understand and gave laymen examples that were over my head, (he likened Chemical reactions to a square dance...Said that jumping off of the parking garage was like energy transfer and other things. I was so confused in that class) I would read the textbook and work examples prior to class and feel okay about the material, I would go to lecture, have my thoughts all jumbled and confused and be unsure of everything. Then I would re-read the book and bumble along, trying to reconcile what I had heard in class with what was presented in the book.

 

I just hated that man. I went to office hours for help--useless. I would get 95% of my homework done and have just one question left, I'd ask him during recitation or office hours and he would give me some sort of round about and confusing answer that would make me feel absolutely confused. Then he would shrug and walk away....

 

I really did hate him by the end of that semester. I got a D in the class and took it again.

 

The second time around, I did all of the online homework for the entire semester in the first 10 days so that I could focus on studying 100%. I took a teacher who students said was okay and boring. That woman was straight-laced and by the book. She taught by example and could rephrase the same thing 3 different ways if you were confused. She helped you figure out a tricky problem you were having by being plain-jane with it but very understandable.

 

I still don't like Chemistry, but I recognize the importance of having a decent teacher. The man I took Physics 1 from was a freaking moron. No joke. A HORRIBLE TEACHER. Just, no...He told lame jokes and never lectured unless he was being extremely incompetent. No body in the class knew what he was going on about whenever he could be bothered to lecture, which wasn't often since it was a SCALE UP class,

 

I couldn't stand him...That was the worst, one of the reasons I can't bear the idea of taking Physics 2, is because of a certain Dr. Jones. I seriously wish I'd reported his inappropriate behavior when I had the chance, the very sight or thought of him galls me, turns my stomach and brings tears to the backs of my eyes. I seriously didn't like him.

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I took chemistry in 10th grade in high school and did not understand anything...and I mean ANYTHING! My teacher knew the material well, but very few of us understood what he was talking about. In fact, I still laugh at what he used to say in class..."OK, is this clear as mud?!" I never could make the transition of algebra to the factor-label method taught in the course. My teacher couldn't convey it either even in tutoring sessions. So, I called it quits and took it in 11th grade, with a different teacher, and voila, I actually understood it. It made sense to me. I'm not sure if it was a different teacher that helped or me waiting to take it a year later with more developmental maturity. At any rate, when I first thought I wanted to be a registered dietitian in college, I found out that I was going to have to take inorganic, organic, and biochemistry and I balked! I was so intimidated after having that bad high school experience that I completely went a different direction and graduated with a marketing degree. I hated that profession, so 5 years later, I went back to school, and pursued my passion: nutrition. I embraced those chemistry courses and LOVED them. I was very fortunate in graduate school to have some excellent chemistry, microbiology, and anatomy/physiology teachers. I think for all those courses it was the TEACHER that made the difference, not the textbook, though, I do think the texts we used were actually pretty good compared to some of the ones I've looked at recently. So, I guess overall, IMHO, I think much of the negative connotation associated with chemistry does stem from less than adequate teachers that teach it at a high school level. Secondly, I think students UNDERESTIMATE how much time is required to master the material especially when working the mathematical calculations---this requires lots of repetition and practice. I havent' seen many high school level texts that give this enough attention.

 

Anyway, just thought I'd throw in my own experience. :)

 

Jennifer

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I just never seemed to grasp what I was supposed to. I excelled at the math part, despite being in Alg 2 while taking chemistry, but there was just something about the whole chemical reaction part and all the different endings that got me... sulfate, sulfite, etc, etc. I just never really got it. The negative this and positive that and bonding.... all things so minute I couldn't wrap my brain around.

 

Oh, and I had never been around natural gas, so to walk into the lab and be shown the shower and eye wash station, then be told to 'turn the knob and light the bunsen burner', I froze. I never once (not once all year) lit that darned thing, it scared me so much.

 

I wanted to like chemistry. I really did. Because of my lack of understanding, I never took physics. I excelled in biology, but my troubles in chem made me scared of, and intimidated by, science. And, that's why I outsourced all sciences beyond Bio for my kids. :D

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  • 3 weeks later...

:iagree:

Not saying that the Ontario system is oh-so-wonderful, but we do have integrated science for Grades 9 and 10 (each grade is split into four quarters - physics, chem, bio, and earth/space science) and then Physics, Chem, and Bio are each offered as Grade 11U courses (Reg courses) and again as Grade 12U (additional topics and more depth and difficulty so that, by the end of Grades 11 and 12, students have the equivalent of an Honours class). I believe Earth/Space Science is only offered as a 12U course.

 

 

 

Not sure if all math curricula teach dimensional analysis - they should. :) Although (and I say this while ducking)... I don't tend use dimensional analysis myself when I solve chem problems. It wasn't how I was taught back in high school or uni so it's not my "go-to" way of problem solving. It IS important to learn and I definitely teach it to my dd - don't get me wrong!

 

Dimensional analysis was never part of my formal math education (it wasn't in the textbook), but my Pre-Algebra teacher made us learn it, promising that it would help us out later in the sciences. It did. Plus, in high school chemistry (at a different school), I was way ahead of the game on stoichiometry because I already understood how to set up dimension analysis and solve the problems. Being forced to learn it in middle school was one of the greatest educational gifts I've ever been given.

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I LOVE chem. But my theory has always been that it brings together a need for math, a new language (all the new vocabulary) and scientific understanding all at once. It's a lot to get a handle on and pulls together many different learning strengths. That is why I think kids should get "Real" science early on. I teach chem in el school. They had at least better have some idea of what an atom is, what electrons are all about, molecular shapes, the periodic table, etc...early on so these are not foreign concepts.

 

I agree with the dimensional analysis as well. Though it's very confusing for my 10 year old who is learning it now in pre-algebra, it was the basis of my 1st engineering course in college, and many students failed out primarily due to an inability to handle dimensional analysis!!!

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I loved the class. No problem there. I'm a math person, and I loved the beauty of balancing equations.

 

The lab though. Arg. I'm a lab klutz, which is funny because I did great in biology lab and minored in physics. I loved those labs. In college I had to take the chemistry for chemistry majors (technical school, everybody had to), and the labs were all-afternoon affairs that involved finding unknowns and making various compounds. And the only reason I got through was because my roommate worked in the lab and helped me during extra sessions while she was at work.

 

Next year we're doing earth science and chemistry here, and I'm looking forward to it. But I outsourced the chemistry lab...

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The single most prevalent item that plagued my co-op chemistry kids was the fact that they had not been exposed to the metric system prior to high school chemistry or they only had a very superficial understanding of it. The second most prevalent problem was the inability to set up a problem as a unit cancellation type of problem. So...does that make it boil down to a mathematics issue?

 

A friend sent me an article that addresses what it takes to succeed in Chemistry. One of its main points is that one needs to put his energies into learning Chemistry, and not try to learn the math and Chemistry at the same time.

 

We just administered a math test to students at our co-op who want to take Chemistry or Physics next year. There were very few (less than 10%) of the students who showed proficiency with concepts such as Scientific Notation, unit conversions, working with exponents (without using a calculator), and general familiarity with the metric system. Those who didn't do well will be required to take a week-long, half day refresher course the week before co-op begins.

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A friend sent me an article that addresses what it takes to succeed in Chemistry. One of its main points is that one needs to put his energies into learning Chemistry, and not try to learn the math and Chemistry at the same time.

 

We just administered a math test to students at our co-op who want to take Chemistry or Physics next year. There were very few (less than 10%) of the students who showed proficiency with concepts such as Scientific Notation, unit conversions, working with exponents (without using a calculator), and general familiarity with the metric system. Those who didn't do well will be required to take a week-long, half day refresher course the week before co-op begins.

 

 

:iagree: :iagree: :iagree:

 

You wouldn't perchance be willing to share a copy of that diagnostic test with the members of the Hive, would you? :D

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:iagree: :iagree: :iagree:

 

You wouldn't perchance be willing to share a copy of that diagnostic test with the members of the Hive, would you? :D

 

I suppose I could. It really isn't as extensive as I'd like it to be, because we had a time crunch since it was being administered during class time, and the teachers still needed to get some instruction time in that day. For example, I've found that surprisingly few of our students know how to read a ruler. Not exactly a math skill, I guess, and it's more useful in Physics than Chemistry, but I would have liked to include a problem where the student was asked to measure a given line and record the length. The "grading" turned out to be much more subjective than I would have thought. There were students, for instance, who clearly had worked with scientific notation, but miscounted a decimal place when writing their answer, while some obviously had no clue what to do.

 

Attaching to this post didn't seem to work. PM me with an email address and I'll send it to you.

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I suppose I could. It really isn't as extensive as I'd like it to be, because we had a time crunch since it was being administered during class time, and the teachers still needed to get some instruction time in that day. For example, I've found that surprisingly few of our students know how to read a ruler. Not exactly a math skill, I guess, and it's more useful in Physics than Chemistry, but I would have liked to include a problem where the student was asked to measure a given line and record the length. The "grading" turned out to be much more subjective than I would have thought. There were students, for instance, who clearly had worked with scientific notation, but miscounted a decimal place when writing their answer, while some obviously had no clue what to do.

 

Attaching to this post didn't seem to work. PM me with an email address and I'll send it to you.

 

Thanks! :) It wasn't so much for me but I thought maybe other members might find it useful. I had forgotten that we couldn't attach documents to posts. :( Would it be alright for other members to request it of you if they're reading this thread?

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I suppose I could. It really isn't as extensive as I'd like it to be, because we had a time crunch since it was being administered during class time, and the teachers still needed to get some instruction time in that day. For example, I've found that surprisingly few of our students know how to read a ruler. Not exactly a math skill, I guess, and it's more useful in Physics than Chemistry, but I would have liked to include a problem where the student was asked to measure a given line and record the length. The "grading" turned out to be much more subjective than I would have thought. There were students, for instance, who clearly had worked with scientific notation, but miscounted a decimal place when writing their answer, while some obviously had no clue what to do.

 

Attaching to this post didn't seem to work. PM me with an email address and I'll send it to you.

 

You know the irony is this is stuff covered in the labs of a physical science curriculum. I know BJU does, and I can't remember how much PH does. (We're using labs from both.) PH CIA tends to put the math in the text, where BJU at that level puts it in the labs. So when you get a situation where the dc is reading the text or watching the videos, he may never DO the math or DO the parallax demonstrations to have that experience. Once he's done it, he won't forget, but certainly a student who has merely read about it could forget. To me it's the irony behind the "labs don't matter" comments. With some texts, when you skip the labs you're skipping a serious chunk of the instruction.

 

This thread has been very interesting to me. Dd has asked to do chem this coming year instead of bio, so I've been shaking up things. I had just sort of assumed the presentation in the text was logical and hadn't really questioned it. Now I'm going to have to compare the Zumdahl text to Regentrude's list, hehe... And to take it further, I think you're right that in general the topics make more sense in a context, applied, rather than just learning bits and pieces of math and nomenclature and equation balancing with no connection to what it does for you. The Illustrated Guide to Chem of course tries to bridge that. So now I'm curious to line the two up and see how they look together. Dd will do much better with context rather than isolated bits.

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But we CAN attach documents with the new forum!!! I did it when I posted my math exams.

 

Hmmm... Maybe if MyThreeSons is comfortable sharing publicly, she could try attaching again. If she doesn't want to share publicly (which I can completely understand!), maybe she'll be willing to share through PM. We'll have to wait and she when she comes back. :)

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Hmmm... Maybe if MyThreeSons is comfortable sharing publicly, she could try attaching again. If she doesn't want to share publicly (which I can completely understand!), maybe she'll be willing to share through PM. We'll have to wait and she when she comes back. :)

 

I don't mind posting it, but I just tried again and got this message:

 

Error You aren't permitted to upload this kind of file

 

 

It was an MSWord file.

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