Course: CHM201
Instructor: L'Esperance
F 2012

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

The goal of the fall 2012 CHM 201 course with Professor Hecht is to cover a basic overview of chemistry for potential chemistry concentrators as well as premedical and engineering candidates. This course aims to introduce students to an introductory science class with an emphasis on the basic concepts behind chemical reactions, equilibrium, energy and entropy, quantum theory, atomic structure, and chemical bonding.

The course is divided into 11 units, which often build onto each other. For example, the stoichiometry section is key for later calculations in CHM 201, while the gases section is not heavily elaborated upon in the upcoming weeks. However, all topics are fundamental for future chemistry classes. For instance, you will have a difficult time in an upper level thermodynamics class if you do not know the basic ideal gas law.

The course flows by moving quickly through concepts that several students encountered in high school and later slows down to cover the newer material.

Therefore, this course rewards those who stick with it because it does slow down as the term progresses, so if a student did not take AP Chemistry, he or she should not worry because the course will slow after cruising through the basics. CHM 201 differs from a high school class due to its different teaching and examination styles. For example, high school teachers will often have time to write on the board each tidbit of information, but with Princeton’s short semester, Professor Hecht moved quickly through a PowerPoint that did not explicitly state each definition and concept. Students are expected to review the concepts on their own outside of class, in addition to simply doing the problem sets, as well as ask questions in office hours, precept, the chemistry resource center, study hall, and McGraw Sunday review session.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

Textbook readings, online activities (ALEKS), and problem sets are due each week. Lectures consist of slide shows with not a significant amount of text, and precepts vary based on your section. For example, some preceptors create review sheets, while others have simple question-and-answer sessions. Furthermore, because the lectures move at a fast pace to keep the students who have taken AP Chemistry engaged, the textbook and online activities (ALEKS) serve as extra resources to explain the concepts more thoroughly.

In addition to the lecture and precept components of the course, the labs also play a crucial role in CHM 201 with RPL. Although the labs frequently do not line-up with the lecture material explicitly, they are intended to teach students basic lab protocol, and, perhaps more importantly, preparation. Students will learn that they will leave lab very early if they are able to read the protocol ahead of time and visualize the lab in their head before stepping foot in Frick. In other words, when students arrive in lab, they should have already done the lab in their heads. This way, they will be much more efficient in lab, save time, and RPL will like them more. In sum, while the lab does teach basic chemistry lab skills such as titration, it also shows students the value in preparation. Thus, although lab, lecture, and precept concepts do not always fit together in terms of the specific topics, all components teach the value of extra preparation and asking questions.

Learning For and From Assignments

Learning to read a textbook and utilize the TA’s can be challenging. In particular, the textbook wording can sometimes be confusing, so underlining confusing sentences and later going into the chemistry resource center to ask about the underlined information can help clarify concepts.

The exams often have more application questions than problem sets, but they are similar to other practice exams that are made available. Students should know that the practice exams not only serve as practice, but also further explanation. For example, a new concept application may be first introduced to a student on a practice exam, so a student may even be at a severe disadvantage if he or she does not complete all three practice exams.

Through Psets and online activities, students will learn just as much through this type of practice. Furthermore, because the practice exams, which may be the most important preparation for exams, are not turned-in, the professor expects students to be self-disciplined and do the exams despite not getting direct credit for completion. students learn to move efficiently through problems and learn what calculations they need to do quickly. Again, the TA’s and professor will not know if a student does do the exams timed, so learning to be honest with yourself and not give yourself extra time on the practice exams is another challenge in the course. also read the textbook closely, ask questions, self-discipline, and be honest with themselves.

Students should highlight what they would want to have on a cheat sheet for this class if they were allowed a cheat sheet. It is helpful to distill formulas and information into a readily summarized form because it will save students time since they will not having to re-read the text before exams if they are constantly adding to their summary sheet.

Students might simply put a question mark in the margin of their notes in lecture next to a section that confused them, but they can later formulate a question to ask in office hours. This technique of keeping a list of question is helpful because it ensures that no concept sneaks past the student. By checking off questions as they are asked, students can make sure that they get answers to their full list. Furthermore, students can ask TA’s to explain ideas a second time if they do not understand the initial explanation. For instance, a student might ask, “Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Can you please repeat what you just said about entropy?” Keep in mind that the TA’s in the resource center may be teaching chemistry concepts that they learned many years ago, so sometimes it will take them a few tries to come up with a clear way to explain. In other words, give them a few chances if they don’t get it right immediately! sure that they complete the practice exams. Fake due dates can be helpful because otherwise, students may put off the practice exams until the day before, when office hours may be too crowded to get all of their questions answered. For instance, if the exam is on a Wednesday, a self-disciplined student might consider completing one practice exam on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so that he or she could get questions answered on Monday and will avoid long lines at McGraw on Tuesday, the day before the exam.

The examinations and problem sets require students to not only memorize in other words, although the practice exams are not turned in like the problem additionally, taking the exams under time constraints is challenging, but can help to summarize, students will be challenged to not only learn the concepts, but given that the course demands close textbook readings, students can read the to rise to the challenge of asking questions, students can keep a list of questions as for self-discipline, students can make a schedule with fake due dates to be in groups because seeing everyone else in the study group put their pencils down after exactly 120 minutes will push students to put their own pencils down as well. creating fake deadlines for the completion of practice exams, and working in groups under timed conditions will help students meet the challenges of CHM 201 with Professor Hecht.

External Resources

I personally did not use external resources (besides office hours and study hall), but in general, I find it helpful to google or even try youtube for tutorials on basic concepts. However, for this course, I found the textbook to be a great resource and did not feel the need to look online in addition. Sometimes, I get more confused when I look online because the internet goes more in-depth than the class. (For some people, this is fun though, so if you're interested, go for it!)

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

CHM 201 in the fall of 2012 taught me basic chemistry concepts, but, more importantly, it taught me how to use Princeton’s academic resources. I wish that I had known that this course does in fact slow down as the term progresses because knowing that future concepts would be explained with more detail would have made me feel better at the beginning of the term.

As for timing, it ranges depending on how much chemistry you have had in the past, how fast you can read the textbook, etc. While I do not feel comfortable publishing a certain number of hours, I will say that it is more work than most introductory classes because it is a lab course, but less than a typical lab course at Princeton.

This course taught me that introductory courses at Princeton are often geared towards a variety of backgrounds, so even students who may feel behind the rest of the class at the start still have a chance to do well on the final if they utilize the resources around them. Thus, I would recommend taking this course early in a Princeton career because its teachings apply not only to chemistry, but also to the way other quantitative classes can be approached.

General Chemistry I

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