Welcome to LSU Chemistry!
Chemistry 1201---General Chemistry
Spring 1998 Section 4 TTh 7:40 - 9:00 Williams 103
Professor Paul Russo Office: 242 Choppin Hall Phone: 388-5729
The Officially "Required" Text: "Chemistry: Structure and Dynamics" by the Three Stooges
A Slightly Better Text: "Chemistry, the Molecular Science" by Olmsted & Williams
Do I even Need a Textbook? Probably, but maybe not. The main utility of our "required" text is that it provides a lot of problems and some of them are answered. If you already own a textbook, you may be able to get by without the "required" text, if you can get a copy of the assigned problems. You should certainly own some book. Read the Preface to see if its designed to accompany a "baby" course (e.g., for non-science majors) or serious courses like this. The LSU bookstore and off-campus booksellers will gladly take your money.
Extra material: I will try to place notes in the Chemistry Library (Williams 3rd floor). If I fall behind, you may wish to consult the internet sites listed below. A full set of my notes from two years ago can be found there already. Read on!
Internet sites specifically for this section
Other Valuable Internet Sites
DO AS MANY PROBLEMS AS YOU CAN. THEN GET HELP TO DO THE ONES YOU COULD NOT DO!!! SOLVING PROBLEMS IS WHAT CHEMISTS DO!!!
This course lays the foundation for a career in Chemistry or another discipline that relies heavily on chemistry, such as Microbiology or Chemical Engineering.
YOU CANNOT BUILD A GREAT EDIFICE ON A WEAK FOUNDATION
so you are encouraged to work very hard in this course. Subsequent chemistry courses will be MUCH easier if you work hard now. In fact, much of what you will learn in subsequent chemistry courses is just a re-hash of what you see here (at a more advanced level). Leverage your success by investing time now.
Advice from the Heart
1. Please dont confuse this course with chemistry! Modern chemistry is an exciting science, with astounding new developments on a daily basis: new ways to fabricate megabit chips for computers, discovery of cancer-causing genes and fabulous medicines, new allotropic forms of elements, solid materials almost as light as air. This course will prepare you for all that.....just as learning spelling and phonics prepared you for novels by Crichton, Clancy or even Shakespeare and Trollope. But learning phonics wasnt much fun and you may feel the same about Chem 1201. Stick with it; you will be rewarded eventually. If you want a preview of what Chemistry is really like, plus a better grounding in its roots, check out our Chem 1001 and 1002 courses. Even if you are a science major.
2. Why are you here? Its a huge university. The registration system is goofy. The faculty must divide their time between research and teaching. Our classrooms and labs are similar to those elsewhere. So why LSU?
Join the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society.
The senior students in this national award-winning chapter will help you find a place in a research lab. Most LSU Chemistry grads have excellent prospects in graduate school (and elsewhere) but the cream of the crop are the students who found time to do some research. No other Louisiana university, public or private, gives you so many chances to participate in research. Begin now!
3. Think for yourself! The taxpayers of this state are not paying for (most) of your education so that you can kick back and soak up information. Instead, they are investing in your mind, so exercise it. Find the wonder in everyday life, think often and use that big, ugly library to find some answers...and some questions.
We seldom succeed at things that are not fun. So, the best way to get a good grade is not to worry about it! Chemistry is a beautiful subject in its own right, so just relax, work hard and have fun. Your final grade will be computed from the following formula:
Grade = 100(M1 + M2 + IQ + 1.5F)
From 100 to 91 A
From 90 to 81 B
From 80 to 71 C
From 70 to 61 D
Less than 60 F
M1 and M2 represent your two best mid-term examinations (a total of three will be given, each worth 100 points). F represents the final examination, worth 100 points. IQ represents your average score on Quizzes taken on the internet. For each IQ, there will be a PQ (practice quiz) which is also given on the internet, but not scored. M1, M2, F and IQ are each worth 100 points, and they will be individually "curved." (For example, a raw score of 50/100 on a midterm might be altered to a 72/100 after curving). You should always use the curved score when estimating your grade. As an exercise in math skills, see if you can figure out the importance of the Internet Quizzes on a percentage basis. If you cannot do this, please consider taking some math courses and starting with our Chem 1001, Chemistry for Nonscience Majors. (Dont worry, its a better, more interesting course anyway and you can take 1201 later if you decide to continue in a major that really requires Chem 1201. Note that we do not give credit for both Chem 1001 and Chem 1201).
The most important part of the course! Certain problems are assigned below. YOU SHOULD WORK THESE!!! You will see these problems again, very thinly disguised, on your midterm exams and on the internet quizzes. For practice, you should work other problems too. Your book has plenty.
Attending lectures is strongly recommended. Avoid taking too many notes. If you are spending so much time writing that you can no longer listen and watch and think, then you are writing too much. For example, if you are confused about some point, make a simple note to remind yourself to look it up in the book. Then just kick back and watch the lecture. If confusion persists, ask a question!!!
Chemistry is a problem-oriented science. What constitutes good study habits in some courses may not work well here!
WHAT IT TAKES TO SUCCEED
Often we find that students fail because no one ever told them what it takes to succeed. They may become discouraged because no one ever defined for them how hard they are supposed to try. So here it is.
---Spend AT LEAST 12 hours weekly on Chemistry, including class time. Preferably, this should be divided evenly ---2 hours daily, six days a week. Work in comfortable, quiet surroundings, but SIT UP! Assuming you had 5 courses, each as demanding as this one, that would amount to a 60-hour work week. You may as well get used to this; not too many successful people do the standard 40-hour week anymore. Some students find it helpful to leave one day (say, Sunday or Saturday) completely open for relaxation/recreation. More than this should not be required.
---Scan the book BEFORE the lecture. See if the lecture answers points about which you were uncertain. Then, try the problems. If you cant do them, read the book and try again.
---Don't wait to ask questions, especially "stupid" ones. An exalted chemist I knew used to say "you have to be willing to look stupid if you are ever to be smart."
---Learn from others. You certainly learn from your own mistakes, but learning from the mistakes of others is much less painful. Watch who succeeds and ask how. Be available for them to learn from you, too. Its a class, not a contest.
---Work with friends or family outside your study group. Often your friends are better teachers than anyone else, because they see the problems much as you do, rather than from an "expert" viewpoint.
--When talking to others about Chemistry, sometimes it becomes easy to slip into "jargon"--a shorthand, abbreviated language. Try instead to express your ideas in COMPLETE SENTENCES. Talking about Chemistry will help as much as listening to others talk about it. Try to talk to someone who doesn't know any chemistry at all, and tell them what you're learning.
---Use the Chemistry Department's Learning Center. We have about 100 graduate students, and the very best of them are PAID TO HELP YOU. The Learning Center is in Room 100 of Choppin Hall. Hours are posted. Learn which of the students is most helpful to you, learn their hours, and bug them to death.
---Try different books, available in the Learning Center and the library (3rd floor, Virginia Rice Williams Hall).
---Try sitting in on the other 1201 sections or our 1001 course. We usually have excellent teachers in several sections. It may help to hear the material in a slightly different presentation, lecture style, etc.
---SEE ME. You may just breeze in unannounced. If at all possible, I will provide immediate help.
---Don't worry about how others in the class are doing. Some will have strong Chemistry backgrounds already. Obviously, this helps! Do your personal best.
---Don't despair. Despite its large size, the Chemistry Department will bend over backwards to ensure your success, if you just keep asking (politely) and keep trying.
---Don't give up!!! Persistence really does pay. Endure!