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The Open University

Discovering chemistry

The Open University via OpenLearn

Overview

Chemistry lies at the centre of our modern life, playing a part in areas as diverse as the development of new drugs and materials, analysing our environment through to more mundane activities such as washing your clothes and making your tea. But to truly understand the role chemistry plays you need to have a sound grasp of a number of fundamental principles.This free course, Discovering chemistry, introduces you to some of these concepts, beginning with the idea that everything that you can see is made of building blocks called atoms. This leads on to a look at the chemical elements and how they are arranged in the Periodic Table, enabling chemists to rationalise patterns in their chemical and physical behaviour.Next you will consider chemical reactions, specifically how atoms combine with other atoms to form molecules, and how molecules combine with other atoms or molecules to form bigger molecules. You will meet simple (tried and tested) theories to explain the bonding in molecules and at how their shapes may be explained, and indeed predicted. And in a wider sense you’ll be looking at why reactions happen at all and how fast they go.This is also a beginner’s level course in the language of the chemist; you’ll learn about symbols, formulas and how chemical equations which represent reactions are constructed. Finally you will see how chemists count atoms and molecules, essential for making up solutions of a known concentration in order to carry out a reaction, or performing a chemical analysis. This OpenLearn science course was produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education, the educational arm of The Exilarch's Foundation. This course is accredited by the CPD Standards Office. It can be used to provide evidence of continuing professional development and on successful completion of the course you will be awarded 24 CPD points. Evidence of your CPD achievement is provided on the free Statement of Participation awarded on completion.Anyone wishing to provide evidence of their enrolment on this course is able to do so by sharing their Activity Record on their OpenLearn Profile, which is available before completion of the course and earning of the Statement of Participation. Enrolling on the course will give you the opportunity to earn an Open University digital badge. Badges are not accredited by The Open University but they're a great way to demonstrate your interest in the subject and commitment to your career, and to provide evidence of continuing professional development.Once you are signed in, you can manage your digital badges online from My OpenLearn. In addition, you can download and print your OpenLearn statement of participation - which also displays your Open University badge.The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey. Once you complete the course we would also value your feedback and suggestions for future improvement, in our optional end-of-course survey. Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.

Syllabus

  • Introduction and guidance
  • Introduction and guidance
  • What is a badged course?
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session1Session 1: Atoms – the building blocks of matter
  • Introduction
  • Learning outcomes
  • 1 Atoms
  • 1.1 Chemical elements
  • 1.2 Introducing the neutron
  • 1.3 Isotopes
  • 1.4 Relative atomic mass
  • 1.5 Ions
  • 1.5.1 Using ions to explore atomic structure
  • 1.6 Models of the atom
  • 1.7 Electronic structure of an atom
  • 1.7.1 Energy levels in atoms
  • 1.8 Electronic configurations of atoms
  • 1.8.1 Electronic configurations of multi-electron atoms.
  • 1.9 Exciting electrons
  • 1.10 More about atomic orbitals
  • 1.10.1 Filling atomic orbitals with electrons
  • 1.10.2 Spinning electrons
  • 1.11. Putting electrons in boxes
  • 2 The periodic table
  • 2.1 Chemical periodicity
  • 2.1.1 The alkali metals and the noble gases.
  • 2.2 Allotropes
  • 3 Electronic configurations revisited
  • 4 This session’s quiz
  • Summary of session 1
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session2Session 2: Chemical compounds
  • Introduction
  • Learning outcomes
  • 1 From elements to compounds
  • 1.1 Introducing chemical compounds
  • 1.2 Molecular substances
  • 2 Molecular and empirical formulas
  • 2.1 Some further examples of molecular substances
  • 2.2 Non-molecular substances
  • 2.3 Comparing ‘dry ice’ with sand
  • 2.4 Extended structures
  • 2.5 Binding forces in molecular and non-molecular substances
  • 3 Another look at the language of chemistry
  • 3.1 Interpreting chemical formulas
  • 3.2 Valency – the combining power of an atom
  • 3.3 Valency and predicting formulas in ionic compounds
  • 4 This session’s quiz
  • Summary of session 2
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session3Session 3: Chemical bonding
  • Introduction
  • Learning outcomes
  • 1 Fundamental ideas behind the chemical bond
  • 2 Lewis structures – a starting point
  • 2.1 Chlorine (Cl2)
  • 2.2 Sodium chloride
  • 2.3 Ionic and covalent compounds – a comparison of properties
  • 2.4 Sketching the Lewis structures for Cl2 and NaCl
  • 2.5 The hydrogen molecule
  • 2.6 Chemical bonding – a common theme
  • 3 Electronegativity
  • 3.1 Electronegativity and the periodic table
  • 3.2 Electronegativity and the chemical bond
  • 4 Bonding in metals
  • 4.1 Alloys
  • 5 Cataloguing chemical substances
  • 6 This session’s quiz
  • Summary of session 3
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session4Session 4: More about chemical bonding
  • Introduction
  • Learning outcomes
  • 1 More about chemical bonding
  • 1.1 Valency and the chemical bond
  • 1.2 Lewis structures – the next step
  • 1.3 Multiple bonds
  • 1.4 Linking Lewis structures with valency
  • 1.5 Lewis structures of ions
  • 1.6 Noble gas configurations under stress
  • 1.7 Dative bonds
  • 1.8 Some more examples of dative bonding
  • 2 Resonance structures
  • 2.1 Bonding in benzene
  • 3 When Lewis structures don’t work
  • 4 This session’s quiz
  • Summary of session 4
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session5Session 5: Chemical reactions
  • Introduction
  • Learning outcomes
  • 1 Chemical reactions
  • 1.1 Chemical reactions – a first-hand experience
  • 2 Chemical equations
  • 2.1 Balancing the equation
  • 2.2 Some further examples of chemical equations
  • 3 Gunpowder – the explosive reaction of charcoal, sulfur and potassium nitrate
  • 4 Chemical equations involving ions
  • 5 Reactivity of molecules
  • 5.1 Functional groups and reactivity
  • 6 The reaction of alcohols with nitric acid – more explosives
  • 7 A closer look at functional groups
  • 8 This session’s quiz
  • Summary of session 5
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session6Session 6: Exploring the shapes of molecules
  • Introduction
  • Learning outcomes
  • 1 Molecular shape affects molecular reactivity
  • 1.1 Reactivity of R-Br
  • 2 Steric effects in enzymes
  • 3 The shapes of some molecules
  • 3.1 The shapes of some simple fluorides.
  • 3.2 Explaining molecular geometry?
  • 3.3 The geometry of the water and ammonia molecules
  • 4 This session’s quiz
  • Summary of session 6
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session7Session 7: Counting atoms and molecules
  • Introduction
  • Learning outcomes
  • 1 Units of measurement
  • 1.1 Units of volume
  • 1.2 Units of mass
  • 2 Weighing and measuring volume in the laboratory
  • 2.1 Weighing solids and liquids in the laboratory
  • 2.2 Measuring volumes of liquids in the laboratory
  • 2.2.1 Where an approximate volume is required
  • 2.2.2 Where an accurate volume is required
  • 3 Introducing the mole
  • 3.1 Molar mass
  • 3.2 Moles and chemical equations
  • 3.3 Working with solutions: concentration
  • 3.4 Expressing concentration in moles
  • 4 How small is an atom?
  • 5 This session’s quiz
  • Summary of session 7
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session8Session 8. Chemical reactions and why they happen
  • Introduction
  • Learning outcomes
  • 1 Petrol engine emissions
  • 2 Chemical equilibrium
  • 2.1 Is the equilibrium position unfavourable?
  • 2.2 The equilibrium constant
  • 2.3 Is the rate of reaction very slow?
  • 2.4 The three-way catalytic converter
  • 3 Catalysts in action
  • 4 Equilibrium positions and rates of reaction – an overview
  • 5 This session’s quiz
  • Summary of session 8
  • Take the next step
  • Tell us what you think
  • Acknowledgements

Reviews

4.5 rating, based on 2 Class Central reviews

4.2 rating at OpenLearn based on 29 ratings

Start your review of Discovering chemistry

  • Sujit Ganpat Kale
    this is a great nice open course into the study and birth of drugs however one slight issue with this is that it expects a good fundamental understanding of chemistry and throws a lot of chemical jargon at you without any support so it is quite hard to comprehend the scientific research papers and chemical properties of the medicine however it does well in explaining generally and so this is a great course for you!
    Helpful
  • Sankhadip Bhowmik
    This is really a good session ,as a person who is studying Microbiology,it is helpful for me because microbiology can be known without chemistry,So this is really a very informative session for me.

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