High School Chemistry

A Tutorial for High School Chemistry

High school chemistry is one of the most feared classes of high school students in their scholastic careers, but with a few tips and resources it can be fun and engaging. High school chemistry encompasses the basics of chemical structure, equations, atomic mass and numbers, as well as bonding and topics like organic and electrochemistry.

Chemistry starts with the basic understanding of the chemical structure of atoms and molecules. All matter is made up of atoms and atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Each of these has a specific mass and never changes. The atomic number of an element is determined by the number of protons in an atom and the atomic mass is the number of protons plus the average number of protons in the atomic nucleus. To figure the mole, or molecular mass, the atomic masses of the individual atoms are multiplied by 1 gram and added together if the atoms are in direct proportion with each other or a one to one ratio. This number is called Avagodro's number and represents the fact that the number of particles in the molecule will be the same as that of the atoms making it up.

A distinction that must be made is that chemical equations differ from chemical reactions. A chemical reaction is what really happens, or the physical events that take place. While the chemical equation represents the reaction in mathematical form. Reactants are the chemicals that are involved in the reaction, also called reagents, and are what the reaction starts as. After the equation and reaction are completed the result is called a product. Several different types of equations exist such as skeletal, balanced, and word equations and they are a part of all chemistry including organic and electrochemistry. A skeletal equation does not show any kind of conversion or change; it simply lists the reactants of the equation and a result. Balanced equations show the amount of atoms or molecules involved, as well as the amount of the product. Word equations are simply that, just the words representing the formula. Balanced equations are the most prevalent in chemistry.

Electrochemistry involves the transfer of electricity in the form of electrons and bonding in physical and chemical processes. It is the study of electricity at its most basic description. Terms such as potentiometry and electrolytic methods are common in electrochemistry. Potentiometry is the potential voltage of any substance or the potential electricity that may be transferred to another substance while electrolytic methods encompass a measurement involving a current or charge. This is the branch of chemistry that provides society with batteries, fuel cells, and electrical grids that are so vital to existence. Additional areas of study in electrochemistry include redox, balancing redox equations, reduction potentials, and the thermodynamics of redox equations.

Organic chemistry is the study of carbon based chemistry and is the chemistry of life and living organisms. Organic chemistry makes up a large portion of chemistry research and learning as it governs all of life's processes and chemical exchanges such as digestion, decay, growth, and birth. Topics in organic chemistry include acids and bases, molecular modeling, carbohydrates, amino acids, proteins, and DNA, as well as stereochemistry. There are thousands of organic chemical reactions and equations that are essential in the understanding of carbon chemistry. Studying organic chemistry will have a majority of the time devoted to bonds and the orbital properties of electrons that allow or enable said bonds in every state of matter.

Chemical bonds are what hold atoms together in molecular form and three major bonds take place in chemistry covalent, ionic, and non-covalent. In a covalent bond atoms share an electron to form their bond, effectively binding them together as the shared electron is needed by both or all atoms involved with the bonding. An ionic bond occurs when an electron is dropped or given to another atom and is not shared. Ionic pairs are held together by electrostatic attractions much the same way magnets work; common table salt is an example of an ionic bond. Non-covalent bonds are typically found in biological chemistry; hydrogen bonds are an example of non-covalent bonds.

Isomers present a special set of properties; they are compounds that contain the same number and same type of atoms but display different properties. Types of isomers include geometric, structural and optical; an optical isomer is a compound that is a mirror image of another but not identical. Typically they rotate the plane of polarized light evenly and equally. Geometric isomers differ only in the structure of the atoms and how they are connected and bonded. Isomers are a diverse and complicated group of chemical compounds that has given rise to many medicines such as Insulin.

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