Organic and Biochemistry

Course Description

Organic and Biochemistry (CHM 1102) is the second semester of a two-semester sequence for nonmajors. It includes Environmental Science majors, Dietetics majors, and other (brave) students taking Chemistry for their General Education Science requirement. Its only prerequisite is the first semester, CHM 1101, Introductory Chemistry, taught by the peerless Dr. Carson.

I began teaching CHM 1102 many years ago using one of the several types of General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry (GOB) texts.  But their breadth of content in biochemistry was greater than appropriate for my student population, and I moved to one or another of the genre known as "liberal arts chemistry". While not as rigorous as typical General Chemistry texts, or even GOB, these have the advantages of greater breadth and more contextual applications. Most recently, I have written my own text, with what I hope is a well-integrated coverage of organic, biological, and environmental chemistry; it may appear in commercial print some day.

In the laboratory, for several years, we used a standard published laboratory manual designed for GOB courses. Over the years, we modified details of the exercises and added more handouts, until we were only using a few exercises from the manual (considerably modified), with many other exercises that we provided as handouts. Now I write my own lab manual.

I want my students to experience this course as a seamless whole, so I try to keep laboratory exercises tied closely to topics currently discussed in lectures. In my syllabus, I tell students that in lab I want them to experience "the breadth and excitement of chemistry as an experimental discipline". That's a tall order at this level. One way I try to do that is to make sure that even if they don't take any more chemistry, they have had some experience using instruments and doing such common procedures as titration, extraction, distillation, and chromatography. The course, at least in the form I want it, is approaching "maturity".  A list of exercises that I now use is followed by others that I have used at various times in the past:


To find my commentary on any of these exercises, click on its title. Please address comments, suggestions, or questions to my e-mail address below.

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Last modified 9/22/06