Humboldt State University ® Department of Chemistry

Richard A. Paselk

Chem 107
Fundamentals of Chemistry

TR 0800-0920 KBR

Tentative Syllabus - Fall 2009

Office: SA 560a & GH 122
Office Hours: TRF 1100-1150; W 1400-1550 other times by appointment
Phone: x 5719 & x 5136
Home: 822-1116

Course Information & Learning Outcome Goals

Catalog Description:

CHEM 107. Fundamentals of Chemistry (4). Terminal course. Fundamental concepts/applications of general and inorganic chemistry. Letter grade only. Prereq: math code 30. Weekly: 3 hrs lec, 3 hrs lab.

Learning Outcomes:

CHEM 107 addresses the following Department of Chemistry learner outcomes. Successful students will be able to demonstrate:

  • an understanding of the fundamentals of chemistry and what they reveal about the nature of physical reality;
  • proficiency in the application of mathematics at the pre-requisite algebra level to solving chemical problems;
  • fundamental proficiency in abstract reasoning;
  • sound ability in written scientific communication;
  • an understanding of the use of physical and mathematical models;
  • an understanding of the relationship of experimental observation to chemical theory and knowledge;
  • fundamental proficiency in spatial perception;
  • the fundamental chemical knowledge and skills needed in chemistry as well as in other disciplines;
  • proficiency and skill in performing laboratory techniques and in making and interpreting laboratory observations; and
  • a fundamental understanding of the theory and operation of fundamental modern laboratory instruments.

CHEM 107 also addresses the following Humboldt State University learner outcomes at low intensity, in which the learner outcome is included implicitly or occasionally:

  • critical/creative thinking, information acquisition and application and
  • social justice, environmental responsibility,  and economic improvement.

Chemistry 107 is an Area B Lower Division General Education course. The GE goals for Chem 107 include:

  • Successful students will be able to distinguish a scientific explanation of a phenomenon from a non-scientific explanation.
  • Successful students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of the basic language and concepts of the science field under study through proper use of the technical/scientific language of that field in the development, interpretation, and application of concepts.
  • Successful students will be able to critically evaluate conclusions drawn from a particular set of observations or experiments.

Texts, Required Materials etc.:

Note that the textbook is available as an eBook or in hardcopy. I am recommending the eBook - it is a bit less expensive (enough to buy the clicker) with the advantages of being fully searcheable, readable (you can have your computer read to you), etc. You can also cut and past and add your own notes to create study notes for yourself - its pretty cool.

  • Bauer, Richard C., James P. Birk, and Pamela S. Marks. Introduction to Chemistry: A Conceptual Approach. 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill, New York (2007). Text + ARIS Make sure you get the package- ARIS by itself is $40 but only adds about $4 to the package.
  • HSU Chemistry Department. Chemistry 107 Laboratory Manual. HUB
  • Approved Safety Goggles  (ANSI Z87.1 impact compliant plus splash protection: available at HSU Bookstore - goggles purchased elsewhere must be approved by your lab instructor prior to use).
  • Scientific calculator with logarithmic and exponential function capabilities.  Programmable calculators are not allowed for quizzes or examinations! Your quiz/exam calculator should also be used for homework.
  • Clicker
  • Fees:  There is a student-approved laboratory fee of $20.00.

General Information

My attitude towards texts is that they are references to repeat, expand, clarify (or confuse!), and otherwise aid you in your endeavor to understand chemistry. I do not "require" that you buy a text - you're an adult, you should know what you require to "get through" a course. It's your decision. However, I strongly recommend purchasing the eBook. Bauer will be the central text for most of this course. Bauer and I may sometimes disagree. In such cases of disagreement between a text and myself, I am the "ultimate authority" and you must "do it my way." This doesn't mean that I am right, but rather that we need a common, defined set of knowledge for effective communication.

I am trying two "new" learning aids this semester:

  • ARIS - an on-line homework system. This is the publishers homework system as customised for our text. I am also intending to customize it further by adding some of my own prolems and linking it to my homewrok sets. ARIS homework will be graded. It should be completed each week before the quiz since the quizzes will be based on that week's homework.
  • I am also going to use "clickers" in lecture. There significant literature indicating that using clickers increases student engagement and success in learning lecture material. Clickers will also be used to automatically take attendance, enabling me to count attendance for a small portion of your grade this semester. I will be working out how to effectively use clickers during the semester for this course, so this is again an experiment for me.

Supplemental Instruction course

There are two supplemental sections (Chem 199) scheduled for Chem 107 this semester. Enrollment occurs after school starts. The supplemental instruction sections for our section of Chem 107 ....

Lecture Notes

I will post copies of my lecture notes on the course web site after each lecture. (If you want to "look ahead" you can get a good idea of what is next by looking at my archive for the Fall 2005 Chem 107 notes.) These notes are intended to help you amplify and correct your own notes. It is generally a bad idea to use my notes instead of taking your own! Taking notes is an essential learning mode for most students. You should be very critical when using the posted lecture notes - it is incredibly easy to screw up and enter small errors into these notes. If you use the notes and think you've found an error please tell me via e-mail so I may correct them immediately rather than forgetting your comments on the way to my office!

This course has an emphasis on problem solving. I will attempt to put all of the lecture examples (and links to others) into my web notes to help you out.

Recommended Learning Strategies

  • DO NOT rely on my web notes - they have served many students in my other courses as an excellent way to check their notes, but make sure you do take your own notes! Most students find taking notes a very valuable learning experience.
  • Don't miss lecture or lab. You will be tested on lecture and lab material.
  • Go to class and take thorough notes. This will greatly improve your chances of getting a passing grade.
  • Review the assigned material in the text and lab manual before and after lecture and laboratory sessions. This can seem like a lot of extra work, but doing this will help you understand the material more than you may realize.
  • Do the assigned on-line (ARIS) homework regularly and KEEP UP.
  • Generally, all the problems in the textbook and in the notes are the types of problems that will appear on exams (I often take exam problems from the text with only slight modification).
    • Work these problems daily.
    • If you don't understand something come see me or your lab instructor during office hours, make an appointment, or just drop by my office. If I am there I will most likely be able to help you. You can also seek a tutor or a study group.
  • Don't procrastinate! Chemistry is not a subject that one can learn overnight."

Time Commitment:

Most students find chemistry to be a challenging and time consuming experience. An average student should expect to spend two hours out of class for each hour in class for a "C" grade, that is about 12 hours a week in study, homework and lab write-ups.


Lecture Calendar: See Fundamentals of Chemistry on my Web Page (

Laboratory Calendar: See Fundamentals of Chemistry on my Web Page (

Grading Information


Lecture: Attendance in lecture will taken via clicker use, and will make a small contribution (<10%) towards your grade. You are most strongly urged to attend every lecture and to take thorough notes to aid your learning. Historically this approach has worked better than missing classes and taking sketchy notes.

Lab: Laboratory attendance is mandatory. Missing three or more laboratory sessions will result in an automatic "F" for the course! Failure to turn in a lab report or 2 "U"s will count as a missed lab. Unless you are informed otherwise, the written report for each lab exercise will be due at the beginning of the following lab. Late reports will not be accepted, except when they are necessitated by illness or some other unavoidable circumstance. Your lab reports will be graded "S" (satisfactory), "U" (unsatisfactory). Your course grade will be lowered by one or more letter grades for three or more "U" (unsatisfactory) reports. Lab reports will not be graded thoroughly, but will be superficially checked for completeness. It is impossible to overestimate the potential value of the lab and of the preparation of the lab reports in helping you to learn chemistry. The work you put in on the preparation of your lab reports will have a direct effect on your quiz and examination scores.

Bring a scientific calculator to every laboratory. Come prepared to the labs - i.e., know what you are about to do in lab. Part of the quiz may be related to the lab for that day. It is expected that you will work on the problem set for a given discussion several days in advance of the laboratory period and be prepared to participate in some discussion.

Be punctual. There is a quiz at the beginning of almost every meeting. Coming in late will only reduce the amount of time you have to do the quiz.

Exams: Note the in-class exam dates and be certain you can make them:

Exam I (Weeks 1-6) - Thursday,

Exam II (Weeks 7-11) - Thursday,

Final Exam (Comprehensive): Thursday 17 December 0800-0950


There will generally be a quiz at the beginning of each lab period. If you are late you will have less time or get a zero! The dates for the quizzes are available on the Lab Schedule. The subject areas covered on each quiz will be posted on the Lab Schedule by the Friday before each quiz.

I do not generally give make-up exams or quizzes, but can often make an accommodation if notified in advance. So if you think you can't make an exam or quiz, please call me in advance. If you can't reach me, leave a message with the Chemistry Department secretary or on my voice mail.

Lecture Points

50 pts
50 pts.
ARIS Homework
100 pts
100 pts.

10 @ 10 pts each

  100 pts.

Midterm exams:

2 @ 100 pts. each

  200 pts.

Final exam:  

  200 pts.


 Total =

650 pts.

Grading Rubric

  • Lab is graded PASS/FAIL as noted above. You MUST PASS lab to pass the course.
  • Assuming you pass the lab, your grade is determined on your total "lecture" points based on the percentage cut-offs listed below:
    A= 95
    A-= 90
    B+= 87
    B= 84
    B-= 80
    C+= 75
    C= 70
    C-= 65
    D+= 58
    D= 50
  • The actual distribution will be adjusted at the end of the semester with 100% set to a number less than the total number of points based on class performance. In the past I have often used the percentage of total points achieved by the top student as 100%. For example, if the top student received 90% of total points, then an "A" would be 95% of 90% = 85.5%.

Withdrawal/Drop Policy (from HSU Academic Senate):

You may drop this course for any reason without record up through the fourth week. After the 4th weekand until the 13th week withdrawal requires a "serious and compelling reason (see below) and will be recorded as a "W." After the 13th week only catastrophic withdrawals (see below) will be given - a grade of "WC" will be recorded.

When contemplating a Withdrawal, you should also be aware of the new CSU policies (Executive Order 1037; August 1, 2009) that place significant new restrictions on course repeats and withdrawals for undergraduate students. As a summary:

  1. Students may withdraw from no more than 18 semester-units (between census and the final 20% of instruction, with a serious and compelling reason).
  2. Students may repeat courses only if they earned grades lower than a C.
  3. Students may repeat up to 16 semester-units with grade forgiveness.
  4. Students may repeat up to an additional 12 semester-units with grades averaged.

Incompletes (from CSU Executive Order 1037)

"The “I” symbol shall be used only when the faculty member concludes that a clearly identifiable portion of course requirements cannot be met within the academic term for unforeseen reasons. An Incomplete shall not be assigned when it is necessary for the student to attend a major portion of the class when it is next offered."

"A student may not re-enroll in a course for which he or she has received an “I” until that “I” has been converted to a grade other than “I”; e.g., A-F, IC."

Campus Resources for Students

Disabilities may interfere with your success in this class. If you need accommodations for a disability, please contact our campus Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) and follow up with me as soon as possible. Our campus SDRC can assist you with the accommodation process and can be reached at (707) 826-5392 (TDD). The SDRC is located in House 71 (Little Apartments) off Library Circle.

Students with Disabilities

  • Disabilities may interfere with your success in this class. Students who wish to request disability-related accommodations should contact the Student Disability Resource Center in House 71, 826-4678 (voice) or 826-5392 (TDD).  Such accommodations may take up to several weeks to arrange. <>
  • Students needing accommodations should also contact the lecture instructor as soon as possible to facilitate/optimize their situation.

Student Support organizations

HSU Add/Drop Policy

Emergency Evacuation

Academic Honesty

Attendance and Disruptive Behavior

C107 Laboratory

C107 Home

C107 Lecture Notes

© R A Paselk

Last modified 5 November 2009