SCIE108 Discoveries in Chemistry: A History
Department of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics: Science
Course Number and TitleSCIE108 Discoveries in Chemistry: A History
Number of Credits3 credits
Minimum Number of Instructional Minutes Per Semester2250
Other Pertinent InformationNon-Lab course
Catalog Course DescriptionThis course examines the historical development of chemistry; the personalities, stories, and experiments behind modern understanding of matter (specifically elements and compounds), and how that understanding has led to practical technologies. In addition, the course explores the nature of scientific thought related to the historic chemical research explored.
Required Course Content and Direction
Learning Goals:Discoveries in Chemistry: A History is designed to serve as a one-semester course to meet the science core requirement for the non-science major. Discoveries in Chemistry: A History covers selected areas of chemistry in a qualitative manner, but not in as much detail as General Chemistry for science majors. Discoveries in
Chemistry: A History also illustrates the nature of science by exploring historically important chemical experiments, and how our understanding of the atomic-molecular world was developed from the results of those experiments. This helps the students understand how science works, equipping them to understand and develop informed opinions related to contemporary scientific issues.
As one of the Natural Sciences, chemistry has evolved out of careful observation and experimentation; as technology evolves, so does the body of chemical knowledge. This course integrates relevant technological advances to illustrate that the methods and practices that allowed chemical knowledge to grow and develop in the past continue to alter and refine our understanding of the physical world.
All of these topics are explored from a historical perspective, with examination of the experiments and observations that led to our modern understanding of them. The twofold goal of this approach is to reinforce understanding of the concepts themselves and to illustrate the nature of scientific thought and practice.
In addition, historical investigation of scientific developments illustrates how considerations in the wider world—such as social, economic, and cultural factors—affect the course of scientific investigations; how such concerns affect how scientists think, the scientific issues scientists choose to investigate, questions scientists ask, how scientists interpret experimental results and observations, and how scientists develop frameworks for organizing their understanding of the physical world. Conversely, the affects of scientific developments on the outside world, its affects on economics, history, society, culture, etc. are explored.
- Course Students will:
- demonstrate an understanding of how observations and experimental evidence shape scientific knowledge, and draw a logical conclusion;
- demonstrate basic understanding of the atomic-molecular nature of matter, and how atoms and molecules give rise to macroscopically-observable elements and compounds;
- describe how historical, economic, social, and cultural factors affect the practice of science and the development of scientific ideas, and how science in turn has affected history, economics, society, and culture;
- evaluate scientific evidence in current scientific issues, and shape and express informed opinions on relevant contemporary scientific issues, and defend their opinions on the basis of evidence; and
- define the role of chemistry in relevant modern technologies.
- Core (if applicable) Category I:
- apply the scientific method by explaining and identifying its components in a variety of situations.
- understand and express the meaning and significance of a variety of communications (Interpretation).
Mathematics or ScienceStudents will be able to:
Critical Thinking/Problem SolvingStudents will be able to:
Planned Sequence of Topics and/or Learning Activities:
- Scientific Thought: Forming and Refining Ideas with Experimental and Observational Evidence
- Phlogiston theory develops to explain apparent loss of mass during combustion
- Priestly discovers oxygen through decomposition of HgO
- Lavoisier shows combustion products actually have more mass
- combustion-as-oxidation replaces phlogiston theory
- in the process, Lavoisier distinguishes “compounds” from “simple substances”
- Atoms: How We Know They’re Real
- Lavoisier defines compounds and simple substances, but offers no explanation
- Davy discovers several oxides of nitrogen
- Dalton notices mathematical relationships among proportions
- the Law of Definite Proportions
- Dalton proposes atoms as an explanation
- also explains compounds and simple substances
- development of atomic theory after Dalton
- Gay-Lussac’s Law of Combining Volumes bolsters atomic theory
- Avogadro explains discrepancies in theory, but is ignored for fifty years
- still resistance among some chemists
- this was because atoms were not observable
- atomic theory was useful, leading to fruitful research, which swayed some; but even skeptics used the theory
- early 1900s: Perrin observes Brownian motion, providing direct evidence of atoms
- today: atomic force microscopy
- Inside the Atom
- Dalton’s atoms were immutable until J. J. Thomson discovered the electron
- Rutherford discovers the nucleus, Moseley defines atomic number
- Chadwick discovers neutrons
- Meitner, Hahn, and Strassmann discover fission
- Hans Bethe determines fusion powers the sun
- Organizing the Elements
- Lavoisier’s “simple substances”
- Dalton’s atoms explain the existence of elements
- early attempts at organization fail
- development of the modern periodic table
- Cannizzaro’s reports more accurate atomic mass values in 1861
- refined atomic mass values allow periodic trends to become clearer to Mendeleyev and to Meyer: both develop periodic tables
- Meyer and Mendeleyev both make periodic tables for use in textbooks
- both developed table to make learning element properties easier
- Mendeleyev uses periodic table to predict discovery of new elements
- de Boisbaudran discovers gallium
- Nilson discovers scandium
- Winkler discovers germanium
- these discoveries bring recognition for Mendeleyev, but also priority dispute with Meyer
- refinements to periodic table
- Ramsey discovers noble gases
- Mendeleyev rejects them at first
- Ramsey shows noble gases to be a new column on the periodic table
- discovery of electron explains periodicity
- Mendeleyev rejects electrons
- electrons meant the elements were not the most fundamental form of matter
- protons explain Te and I discrepancy
- Structure Makes the Substance
- Wöhler and von Liebig discover isomerism
- the development of structural concepts in chemistry
- Kekulé and Couper lay down basics of organic structure, explaining isomerism
- Pasteur discovers chirality
- van’t Hoff uses lack of isomerism in CH2Cl2 to propose tetrahedral carbon
- how are atoms joined in structures?
- Kossel proposes ionic bonding
- Lewis proposes covalent bonding>/li>
- Lonsdale determines benzene bonds are equal in length
- Pauling proposes resonance on the basis of Lonsdale’s results
- epilogue: Hodgkin wins Nobel Prize for vitamin B12 and other structural determinations
- Reproducing Natural Structures
- Wöhler synthesizes urea
- the vital hypothesis
- Wöhler’s urea began the overturning of this hypothesis
- Percy Julian synthesizes physostigmine
- Designing New Molecules
- Hoffmann and Eichengrün synthesize aspirin: Modifying natural structures
- salicylic acid exists in nature, but harsh
- structural modification produces aspirin
- Nazis erase Eichengrün from aspirin story
- Carothers invents nylon
- Staudinger puts forth macromolecular theory to explain natural and synthetic polymers
- Carothers uses theory to invent nylon
- nylon is structurally similar to silk: biomimetics
- macromolecular theory prevailed because it produced useful (and profitable) products more so than because of the results of any single decisive experiment
- Elion and Hitchings first use rational design to produce chemotherapy drugs; win Nobel Prize
- understand the nature of scientific knowledge as being based on evidence and observation
- understand the nature of scientific knowledge as being testable
- examine scientific evidence and draw conclusions based on that evidence
- understand that scientific ideas are refined as new evidence emerges, and to be able to recognize moments in history when such revision occurs, and to be able to recognize contemporary changes in scientific understanding when they occur
- recognize simple mathematical relationships in scientific observations and be able to draw conclusions from mathematical relationships
- grasp the distinction between descriptive scientific laws and explanatory scientific theories
- know the evidence that has led us to the basic theories underlying modern chemistry
- understand how protons, neutrons, and electrons combine to form the different kinds of atoms that make up all the elements that make up ordinary matter
- grasp that periodic relationships among elements arise from mathematical relationships between the numbers of protons and electrons found in various elements
- understand the difference between elements and compounds
- understand the nature of ionic bonding and covalent bonding in a cursory manner
- understand how atoms join to form molecules (and extended crystals) and that the nature of these structures gives rise to the macroscopic properties of a substance
- understand the concept of chirality in a cursory manner
- understand that it is the molecular-level structure of a substance that gives rise to its properties, and not its origin (i.e. natural vs. synthetic)
- understand that natural substances can be duplicated by synthesizing the same molecular-level structures artificially
- grasp the concept of biomimetics in molecular design
- understand that chemists can design and prepare new materials with desired properties by understanding how molecular-level structure affects macroscopic properties
- understand the macromolecular nature of polymeric materials
- understand in a cursory manner the processes of nuclear fission and nuclear fusion
Assessment Methods for Core Learning Goals:
- Course Course learning goals are continuously assessed by: periodic written examinations and quizzes, in-class group work and discussions, and writing assignments.
- Core (if applicable)
- Category I: Mathematics or Science
- Category III: Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
Written examinations and classroom exercises are used to assess the ability of the student to accurately translate descriptive problems into mathematical formulas and solve them. For example, students are asked to calculate relative atomic masses based on the proportions of elements in a series of compounds.
Students apply the scientific method in the classroom and are required to discuss observations, and give a reasonable explanation to any changes or deviations from the expected results.
Critical thinking and problem solving are assessed using written examinations and classroom exercises. The classroom exercises contain components aimed at evaluating application of skills, integration of knowledge to explain phenomena, and reasoning exercises. For example, students are asked to evaluate the merit of competing theories in explaining observations made during historic chemical investigations.
Reference, Resource, or Learning Materials to be used by Students:See Course Format.
The students use approved text, demonstration equipment, the library, science learning center, and computer programs.
Teaching Methods EmployedSection VIII is not being used in new and revised syllabi as of 12/10/08.
Revision/Approval Date: Approved 5/2012