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Chem 203: Integrated Rate Laws

Here is a link to a very straightforward explanation of how integrated rate laws are derived. It uses calculus and may not make much sense if you’ve never learned this kind of mathematics but for those of you who have it provides some nice insight into how we arrive at these integrated rate laws. For those of you who haven’t had calculus this lecture is still a nice summary of the two forms of the three main rate laws: zero, first and second order.

Everyone must be able to recognize the linear equation y=mx + b so that you will be able to make a connection between the rate law and the kind of graph it produces.

Chem 201: States of Matter

Our lecture today covered Chapters One and Two in Gilbert. You can access Chem Tours even if you haven’t purchased the Gilbert book so I suggest you take a look at the Chem Tours from Chapter One and Two:

We discussed nomenclature, classification of matter, colloids, states of matter, isotopic notation and Rutherford’s experiment. The first quiz on Wednesday will cover all of these topics. Here are a few links to help you get ready for the quiz:

Nomenclature Drill and Practice:

Classification of Matter:


Isotopic Notation:

Rutherford’s Experiment:

We also did two demos today – we looked at how a surfactant is an emulsifying agent allowing water and oil to form a homogeneous solution that is opaque (scatters light). We also looked at a reaction that produces a blood red complex ion:

This link is in Russian but the photographs are outstanding:

See you on Wednesday. Reminder!!! Dress for lab.

Chem 203: Chemical Kinetics

This week the course has been introduces and we’ve started to learn about kinetics. Here are a few links to browse:

The article that was mentioned today about a new Nickel catalyst is available for you to read.

This is a wonderful video demonstrating a very dramatic clock reaction.

Have a lovely weekend and study hard!

Chem 201: Lost in Lab and I Don’t Know Why

Today we did our first lab and I had an opportunity to watch you in action. We need to talk. I have a few thoughts and I’d love to hear yours about how this lab could have been carried out with more style and grace.

First comment: The known standards are PRECIOUS. They must be guarded against contamination. By the end of the lab the potato starch was fizzing when vinegar was added to it. The source bag containing the uncontaminated potato starch didn’t fizz. What do you think happened (and how and when?)

Second comment: There were spills and thrills (even broken glass). Someone tried to use our air jets and no doubt was surprised by the very loud sound they make. (And to make matters worse the air isn’t even dry – it is contaminated with water so it really isn’t a useful way to dry glassware.) How could the lab be carried out with less mess? Ideas?

Third comment: Fear of fire. The bunsen burner is a very useful tool. The more you use it the more comfortable you’ll be. Pratice and ask questions! That’s how you learn.

Last comment: A couple of people forgot the dress code. Today was a gentle reminder. Next time anyone in sandals or shorts will not be able to do the lab.

In spite of the challenges everyone was able to determine the identity of an unknown white substance. One key was missing at the end of lab. Don’t forget to bring it on Monday! I hope in the midst of chaos you had some fun and learned somthing new.

Here’s a video to teach you something about fire and safety:

Enjoy it, have a lovely weekend and learn those polyatomic ions:

I’ll be in my office all afternoon tomorrow if you want to stop by and chat about the course.

Chem 201: Welcome Class of Fall 2011

We met for the first time Monday afternoon. We had a guest join us: Robert from the tutoring center, and he handed out a schedule. The best time to seek support is before you feel lost in a class.

We spent a good amount of time going over all of the “first-day” handouts: syllabus, grading policy, student learning objects, and so on. We talked about classroom policies, laboratory dress code (please! no shorts or sandals), and civility (watch those beeping, la de da, cell phones:-). Everyone was introduced and we learned we are an interesting class with serious goals.

Then the students were given the assessment activity – a test to determine readiness for Chemistry 201. We’ll discuss the results on Wednesday.

When we returned we went over the metric prefixes, significant figures, and some simple calculations. We discussed precision.

Then we took a look at an interesting video: Test Your Awareness Whodunit. We read a quote from Sherlock Holmes and watched an apple (we assumed it was a candle) with an almond in it burning and described it - revealing how we make assumptions and often don’t actually observe.

Tomorrow we will have our first laboratory. Please be ready. You will NEED your laboratory notebook. Print out the laboratory and read it ahead of time. Also, read Chapter One of the textbook. Check the textbook website .

See you tomorrow.

Announcement: Uptown Exchange Student Newspaper

Please visit this link to learn more:

Gardening: Reorganizing the Greenhouse

I believe it is important to learn from mistakes and not be afraid to start over when something isn’t working. I tried to put a raised bed in the center of the greenhouse and grow zucchini. It didn’t work. The zucchini plant produced giant leaves and no zucchini. I couldn’t reach the back of the garden bed. The spiders took over. the bottom leaves were molding.  Anything else I tried to grow was slowly being overshadowed and deprived of space and sunlight. So I tore out all of the zucchini and rearranged the garden beds. Now I am growing peppers, brussel sprouts, kale and celery. The plants suffered a little in the transplanting but they’ve recovered nicely.


Greenhouse - Take Two

The potted plants are carrots and potatoes. It you look through the greenhouse you can see the giant sunflower stalk in the back. When the weather gets colder I have a place to bring some of the other potted plants inside the greenhouse. It takes lots and lots of dirt to fill up these raised beds – about 20 40lb bags.

Gardening: On the Rocks

I’ve learned that the tarragon has a tendency to lean over so I’ve used a few rocks to create some support. This plant has bright yellow flowers that are lovely.


Tarragon On the Rocks

Gardening: Special Moments

Yesterday evening I looked at my giant sunflowers and noticed a little yellow bird happily munching on sunflower seeds. I felt very pleased to be feeding such a beautiful creature. In special moments like these I feel like the garden is magical.

Three Sunflowers and a Yellow Bird

Look for the Yellow Bird

Yellow Bird Close Up
Yellow Bird


I imagine this little bird feels lucky too. A big plate of sunflower seeds are laid out just for him.

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