Chemistry 1A

California State University, Sacramento 














Our delight in any particular study, art, or science rises and improves in proportion to the application which we bestow upon it. Thus, what was at first an exercise becomes at length an entertainment." --Joseph Addison (English essayist, 1672-1719)  

"About 10-15 hours/week oughta do it. Try to spend some time studying chemistry every day. It really works!" --Dan Decious (American Chemistry Professor, 1938-?)


Catalog Description:

General Chemistry. The fundamental principles and concepts of chemistry, including stoichiometry, thermochemistry, atomic and molecular structure, solution chemistry, acid-base chemistry, oxidation-reduction reactions, an introduction to chemical equilibrium, and chemical kinetics. The course is fairly mathematical and requires an ability to do arithmetic and algebraic computations. Lecture three hours, laboratory six hours. Note: In order to enroll, all students must pass a qualifying exam given prior to each semester. Students who fail this exam should take Chemistry 4. Prerequisites: high school algebra (two years) and high school chemistry or equivalent. 5 units.


So, what's a nice person like you doing in a course like this? Well, probably, you want to be an engineer, or a doctor, or a biologist or some other kind of scientist. Or, you're not too sure what you'll major in, but you liked your previous chemistry course, and decided you'll try another one. * Good. We (the staff of Chem 1A) will do everything we possibly can to make this course as enjoyable as possible, and will try to teach you as much chemistry as we can; that's what it's all about, isn't it? I mean, for nearly all of you, this is a prerequisite for your major, which means your department wants you to learn Chem 1A and will expect certain things from you. Well, we've tried to put everything into this course that we can think of to help you prosper. If you have any suggestions, we're very willing to listen. The following material is a list of some of the requirements of the course, and a list of some of the resources and ideas that we have implemented to make this semester as successful as possible.  


Although attendance is not mandatory, studies have shown that there is a very strong correlation between lecture attendance and good grades. For instance, one such study indicates that students who miss at least one out of five lectures receive an average GPA less than 1.5! The point is that nearly every instructor--and we are no exceptions-- takes the exam questions directly out of the lecture material. Additionally, the lecturer is explaining, as clearly and carefully as she/he knows how, what you need to know about the subject. So try not to miss one single lecture all semester. (And please show up on time!!!) Last semester I found that when I took roll, the attendance increased. So, I'll take roll a few times and add up to 10 pts on the final exam for those who have good attendance. Also, I think you should spend two to four hours per week going over (and possibly rewriting) your lecture notes. Factoid: Research on material retention indicates that notes should be reviewed within 24 hours of each lecture. Please turn off all cell phones before coming to lecture! Thanks.

* Yes, it is expected that you have completed a high school chemistry course, with at least a C- grade. The other prerequisite is intermediate high school algebra. If youhave not taken high school chemistry or its equivalent, you should take Chemistry 4 before enrolling in this course. ________________________________________________________________________


Attendance is required in the lab. If for some reason you miss a lab,it must be made up within one week. This can be done by attending a laboratory section other than your own. You must ask the instructor for permission to work in that section and the instructor must initial the work you do for the make-up. Quizzes will also be given during the laboratory time. See the section on grades for the point distribution.  LABORATORY REPORTS are due at the beginning of the lab following the completion of the experiment. Late reports will be assessed a penalty of 20% per lab period. After lab reports are graded and returned, a late report can receive only 30% of points possible. Any student who does not complete and turn in all lab reports will not receive a passing grade in the course. Most of the experiments have an Advance Study Assignment that is due before you begin the experiment. Be sure to hand in this assignment at the beginning of the laboratory in which the experiment is started. Incidentally, Chem 1A is a general education course, and will have a significant writing requirement. Be sure to use the laboratory reports to demonstrate and improve your writing skills.   Note: Of the ten or more hours of study time per week, schedule two or three of them as soon after each lab period as possible. Because the report will be due at the beginning of the next lab, you'll need to do the write-up and the next Advance Study Assignment at that time. That way, as you run into difficulty, you can go to the HELP! office, in Science 502. Plan on spending two to three hours per week doing lab assignments. Use the HELP! Office if necessary for assistance.  



It is Chemistry, the Central Science (9th edition), by Brown, LeMay, Bursten and Burdge. Try to read the text, before lecture, for two to three hours per week.  


Problems will be assigned weekly, and will be graded and returned in lab. Homework will contribute 5% of your grade; it is essential to learn how to solve problems. Thus I suggest you do as many problems as you can, especially those with answers in the back. These assignments should take two to three hours per week. We recommend a problems book that is available in the Hornet Bookstore. Problem Solving for Chemistry, by Ed Peters, is an excellent auto tutorial problems book. Use it on your own; there are many good problems, all with answers. In any case, set aside two to three hours per week for doing these problems.  


Room 502 in the Science Building will be staffed by faculty members from Monday through Thursday, from 9 to 3, and on Fridays from 9 to 11. Feel free to ask the instructor for help. Try not to abuse the office; the instructor is there to help you learn, not to write up your lab reports or to do your homework. You should try to go the Help! office during the times that Chemistry 1A instructors are present.  


The Reserve Book Room has three goodies. 1) Old hour exams and final exams, 2) lecture notes, scribbled by the lecturer, and 3) answers to problem sets. These will be posted after the homework is due; therefore no homework will be accepted after the answers are available. The homework solutions will also be posted next to the labs. If you have trouble understanding the text, there are other standard texts available in the Reserve Book Room. In increasing order of difficulty they are: (by author)   Holtzclaw,, Mortimer, Silberburg, Masterton,, Brady, Kotz & Purcell.  


The Media Center, on the first floor of the library, has cassettes and workbooks available which cover algebra, logarithms, significant figures, plotting curves on graphs, etc. Additionally, there is a set of 29 "lessons" which feature a cassette and section from a workbook. You can either a) buy the workbook and use the tape in the Media Center of the library or, b) use a workbook available in the Media Center. If you do the latter, please do not write in the workbook, but rather write your answers on a separate sheet of paper. The call number is Audio 1112 and guide.@  


Both your lecturer and your lab instructor will post office hours. Be sure to use them, if you have any questions.  


Your final grade will be based on the following point breakdown:  

Lecture: 600 points
Hour exams 300 points

Final exam 225

Homework 50

Nomenclature Exam 25

Laboratory: 400 points

Lab quizzes 135 (best 9 of 11)*

Lab write-ups 205

Lab unknowns 60

*Note: The grading is sort of on a curve, although the results are disgustingly predictable. If you get at least 81% of the points, I guarantee an A or A- grade. (I'll stand by this; if, just once, everybody got above 81%, I would give everyone an A and smile therest of my life!) Similarly, 71% is at least a B-. On the otherhand, I just can't justify giving anything above an F for a course average under 50%.

. Last spring the results were:   Class Average: 676 

A 808 - 1000

B 698 - 795

C 556 - 692

D & F Below 550  

Note: All examinations will be CLOSED BOOK, but you will be able to bring a 3 by 5 card to each exam, with as much stuff as you can cram onto it. You need not bring anything else except a pencil and your calculator, since paper and periodic tables will be provided. If you do bring books or notes, you will be asked to leave them at the front of the classroom as you enter.  


We hope that this orientation material will help you through the course. If you can think of any way we can improve Chem 1A, please run it by me (DD); I'll consider it seriously, and give you a response. Remember that you must check out of your locker in the laboratory; otherwise you'll be assessed a minimum $15.00 fine, and will not be able to register for other courses until it is paid.   There is no need or justification to "walk out" of this course! Any student who does this will receive a grade of "U" which, as you know, counts as an F on your grade point average and has worse implications than an F! If you are experiencing difficulty (of any kind)** please see your instructor:  

Dan Decious SQU 510
Office Hours*:

Mondays 8:12 - 9:45, 11:05 - 11:24 AM**
Tuesdays 10:22 -11:24 AM, 1:00 - 1:24 PM
Wednesdays 8:12 - 9:45, 11:05 - 11:24 AM** PM
Thursdays 10:22 -11:24 AM, 1:00 - 1:24 PM
Fri 8:12 - 9:45 AM

Office Phone: 278-7016  

WEB address:

e-mail address:

Dr. Susan Crawford SQU 520

Office Hours: To be announced

Office Phone: 278-6542

e-mail address:

* See my office door (SQU 510) to sign up for an appointment. I'll have a chart with my life, in half-hour increments, for you to use.  

** Do you know what really frustrates me? When the first time I see a student outside of class is when s/he comes by to drop or, worse, tries to drop after the drop deadline. (Incidentally, the deadline is the Friday of the sixth week of class, which is October 10.) If you are struggling, or life doesn't seem to be giving you enough time to do well in 1A, please come see me! I have all sorts of ideas that might actually help you.  



Last updated August 30, 2003