Topic 1: Measurement – What you need to know.

Our first topic is Measurement.  In order to be better scientists, to do experiments to help you see with your own eyes how chemistry works, you need to appreciate measuring.  That sounds dull, but it’s not.  You see, if you measure carefully, and follow some simple math rules, you will find that chemistry on paper will match what is actually happening in your labs.

You will learn about concepts, then you will prove to yourself that these are correct.  There’s no taking my word for this stuff, you will learn the material and then we will see if what you’re taught in class really happens, and it does.

Once you see that with just a little bit of care and paying attention to measuring, the metals, the acids, the chemical reactions (etc.) all work exactly as they should.  When we learn about how atoms combine at the atomic level, forming new compounds, we can measure our reactants in the lab, and predict the products.  Chemistry allows you to predict the future (in a way).  

Sometimes students can be jaded (look that up).  But if you open your minds and hearts to the course, and to me, you will find that this year of chemistry will be eye opening, and that you are already smart enough, and capable of doing work that will confirm for yourself that chemistry is perfect.  You’ll be moving towards perfection as well.

In this topic (and all the rest) there will be some basic vocabulary (we have to learn to talk clearly to each other).  Words have meaning, and in science especially, we need to understand what we’re saying to each other.

There are also some math formulas, that will guide you through the math that will help prove that the atoms and molecules are doing what you think they are.  There’s also some rules to rounding your numbers that you’ll need to learn:  Significant figures are aptly named, and there are rules to what digits to round your answers too.  1.0 grams is not really the same as 1.00 grams.  You’ll see.

I saved this photo as a file called “stupid teacher of lab” because NONE of these students have lab goggles on.  In our lab you will ALWAYS have goggles on.  Always means just how it sounds.  These four are doing a fine job of protecting their foreheads.  If something splashes, like acid, or boiling water, or broken glass, better a little scar on the forehead to remind you than becoming blind.  This will NEVER be you.  Lab coats are optional.  

We will also learn to embrace errors.  We will try to make as few mistakes measuring as possible, but since we are not perfect, nor are our tools, we accept the limitations of them, and our own eyes – which will limit the exactness of our results.

Then there’s some math and a few new temperature scales and a few more formulas.  Every bit of it is easy, but there are a lot of bits.  We’ll use this measuring stuff all year long, in every lab, and on all of the celebrations, including the Regents next June.