Chem Connections


Earth, Fire, and Air: Can Fast, Gas-Forming Reactions Save Lives?
The development of air-bag systems for automobiles is used as a case study for introducing a variety of gas-forming reactions and their stoichiometry. Students learn how to determine mass/mole relationships, balance equations, and carry out gas law calculations.

Computer Chip Chemistry: Driving the Reactions of Integrated Circuit Design
The fabrication of integrated circuits on silicon-based semiconductors is used to introduce students to the rapidly growing industry of semiconductor processing. Enthalpy, entropy and Gibbs free energy will be introduced sequentially as the various fabrication steps are considered.

What Should We Do About Global Warming?
Groups of students will analyze the historical data set of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons and attempt to account for the increasing concentrations of these 'greenhouse gases' by finding their source and sink reactions. Students will then design an international global warming policy based on scientific data, but also taking into consideration environmental, social, political, and economic realities.

Why does the Ozone Hole Form?
This module is driven by the question, "Why does the ozone hole form in the Antarctic Spring?" Students will use the world wide web to learn about the structure of the atmosphere and the ozone layer, when the ozone hole is formed, and its current status. The oxygen chemistry which "naturally" makes and destroys ozone will be covered, along with the 2-step Cl-catalyzed cycle proposed in 1974 by Rowland and Molina. The unique Antarctic meteorology and heterogeneous chemistry will complete the story. Emphasis is placed on using chemical kinetics in a real context by using rate concepts and calculations to answer relevant questions about ozone. The skill of learning to support or refute a scientific hypothesis with evidence is strongly emphasized throughout, as well as the interplay of experimental data and theoretical models.

Build a Better CD Player: How Can You Get Blue Light from a Solid?
This module challenges students to think about a materials design question, how to get light out of a solid, during two to three weeks of their chemistry course. Light-emitting solids are essential for many high technology materials and products, including compact disk (CD) players. Students make use of the periodic table to propose color-specific emitting solids based on knowledge of periodic properties, bonding, electronic transitions, solid structures and the properties of light.

Would You Like Fries With That? The Fuss About Fats in Our Diet
Fat is an important nutrient in our diets. Recently, however, dietary fat has been linked to an increased risk of chronic disease such as coronary heart disease and some types of cancer. In this module we will learn about the chemistry behind the news. We will investigate the properties of fats and oils and relate these properties back to their triglyceride structure. We will gain experience with chemical notation, polarity, thermochemistry, and intermolecular forces. There will be a chance to explore bond strength, cis/trans isomerism, and basic organic nomenclature. We will also develop skills in the chemistry laboratory. Finally, looking at some of the fat substitutes on the market, we will both justify their properties from a chemical perspective and debate their effectiveness as a part of the American diet.

How do we get from bonds to Bags, Bottles, and Backpacks?
This module is designed to help students learn about chemical bonding, polarity, intermolecular forces and the impact of chemical structure on the properties of materials by focusing on polymers. As we learn about the chemistry of polymers, we will also learn how it overlaps with other disciplines and areas of life including material science and recycling.

Should We Build a Copper Mine?
Copper - from where does it come and what does it cost? Does it matter how we produce it? What are the environmental consequences? In this second term general chemistry module students will explore the science behind these questions and develop informed answers. Case teaching. collaborative laboratory work, and classroom group problems will be used to teach redox reactions, acid/base reactions, solubility, and electrochemical equilibria. Teams of students will be given a chance to perform their own analysis and hydrometallurgical processing of an ore sample.

Water Treatment: How can we make our water safe to drink?
This 3-4 week module on Water Treatment is driven by the question, "How can we make our water safe to drink?" Students begin by learning about the hydrologic cycle and the various pathways by which dissolved substances get into a water supply. The process of dissolution is then examined in some detail, with a focus on learning about the nature of ionic and covalent substances and the factors that control their solubility in water.

Soil Equilibria: What Happens to Acid Rain?
What happens to the oxides of sulfur and nitrogen produced during combustion? Where do they go and how do they affect the environment? This module is intended for use in an analytical chemistry course and asks students to consider the consequences when soil equilibria are stressed. What chemical species are important in the soil system charge balance? How are changes in pH, solubility, and ion-exchange interlinked with ion distributions and concentrations? How does the chemical system shift and the ecosystem respond? Instead of many simple problems where individual equilibria are studied separately, students are asked to question and investigate facets of a more complex problem through laboratory measurements of model and natural systems, supplemented by case studies.

Origin of Life on Earth
Major events in the origin and evolution of life will be examined from a chemical perspective, including the formation of the solar system, the first reproducing molecules, the evolution of metabolism, and the search for extra-terrestrial life.

How Can We Reduce Air Pollution from Automobiles?
Analyzing Issues of Automobile Fuels and Air Pollution



Teaching and Learning Information

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Last modified: 7/20/02 at 5:58 PM