Description of Course Goals and CurriculumCHM 207 is an introductory course in chemistry with examples drawn from materials science. The basic concepts of chemistry are introduced: stoichiometry, reaction types, equilibria, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and chemical bonding. These concepts are applied in discussions of the structure, reactions, and properties of technologically important materials: metals, semiconductors, ceramics, and polymers. This course is designed as a one term introduction to chemistry, however it may be coupled with CHM 202 to fulfill medical school requirements in general chemistry. CHM 207 is primarily aimed at engineers and intends to serve as an introductory course to chemistry, with some additional focus on materials science. The lab assignments also teach students proper lab procedures and how to collect data from lab, preparing them for future lab-based courses. This class is structured around two exams that occur roughly around midterm and Thanksgiving weeks, which divide up the course into three distinct sections. The first section covers chemical reactions, including stoichiometry, acids and bases, and energy and entropy. The second section covers atomic theory, including orbitals, bonding, and basic quantum mechanics. The third section covers a few special topics in solid state chemistry and electrochemistry, intended more as enrichment than tested knowledge.
Learning From Classroom InstructionThe format of the course is a standard large lecture that meets three times a week, with precepts once a week. During the lectures, PowerPoint lecture slides and demonstrations are projected onto screens, where they are easily seen from the back. Taking lecture notes is helpful but not absolutely necessary. As with many science courses, students will learn the same material from studying the textbook thoroughly as they will from taking good lecture notes. Keeping up with the pace of instruction can be difficult, and taking notes often distracts students from the spoken explanations. Focused listening and watching during lecture, without worrying about writing everything down, can be supplemented by textbook study later for a more comprehensive understanding. The style of precepts depend on each preceptor, but serve as problem set sessions where the preceptor will walk through homework problems and textbook exercises with students. Because of the varied style of precepts, “shopping” around until you find a suitable preceptor will be more productive than settling for the first one that you are assigned to.
Learning For and From AssignmentsProblem sets are usually comprised of textbook problems, which tend to be straightforward exercises focusing on one or two concepts at a time. What the homework assignments lack in complexity is made up by volume and repetition. In order to get the most out of problem sets, resist the urge to look up information while doing exercises. Instead, a good approach is to review the concepts, attempt to finish the whole problem set, and then go back to fill in gaps in knowledge and complete the assignment. The problem sets do not count for a major part of the overall grade, so they are mainly tools for reinforcement, not assessment. Labs and lab reports are much more involved than problem sets, although the difficulty stems mostly from following proper lab procedures and obtaining “good” data. When performing an experiment, slow and deliberate work is good. Three hours is enough time to finish each week’s experiment, as long as no catastrophic errors are made. If an experiment is not completed during the 3-hour period, students can also go to lab later to finish up. Each lab report can be redone until the lab TA is satisfied with the written analysis, so there is little pressure to get everything perfectly right the first time. Exams feature slightly more difficult material than problem sets and count for the majority of course grade. The final exam is worth twice as much as each midterm exam, and the three exams count for 60% of the final grade altogether. A good strategy is to attempt to work through an entire practice exam without any aids, simulating a real test environment. Then, review the exam and do exercises to reinforce less familiar concepts.
External ResourcesOffice hours are a valuable resource and essentially serve as extensions of precept, where the main purpose is to work through problems and ask TAs for clarification of important examples. A good way to use office hours is to come with questions prepared, particularly about missed problems on a homework assignment, lab report, or exam.
What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course SelectionIf your purpose in taking CHM courses is to satisfy medical school requirements, CHM 201 might be a more cohesive course when taken together with CHM 202 in the spring. However, if you are an engineer who only needs to satisfy the chemistry requirement for BSE or the materials science certificate, this is a good alternative to CHM 201.
Advanced General Chemistry: Materials Chemistry