Placement: Honors Chemistry is for juniors and seniors who have taken, or are concurrently taking, Algebra II. The course utilizes mathematical skills such as algebraic manipulations of equations, ratios and proportions, unit conversions, and significant figures. Toward the end of the course, we will do pH calculations using logarithms and power functions.
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder, and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” – Albert Einstein
“Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. Majestic and glorious is his work, his righteousness endures forever.” Psalm 111:2-3
Chemistry helps students develop virtues leading to strong scholarship, but more importantly, it strives to cultivate a sense of wonder about the physical world around them. Besides the acquisition of scientific knowledge, the goal is for students to recognize that they now partake with many scientists throughout history in the pursuit of truth. Growing awareness of the beauty and order of our world, as well as the connection with humanity, will inevitably lead to the true source of all this mastery.
In order to prepare students for college-level chemistry, this course uses a mastery approach. The text, General Chemistry by John D. Mays, facilitates mastery by covering fewer concepts at a deeper level. Our goal is to have a solid, working comprehension of these concepts and to apply the mathematical calculations accompanying them. Mastering these concepts now will create a tremendous foundation upon which higher-level concepts can build in college. Repetitive review of important “standard problems” throughout the year will keep concepts relevant and fresh. This course integrates science with history, mathematics, faith, and the epistemology of science. While receiving a solid foundation in science, we will take time to contemplate and discuss topics in class.
Laboratory – A good scientist must understand well-designed experimentation, the proper interpretation of results, and precise communications of his/her findings. The robust, high-quality laboratory component for Honors General Chemistry consists of experiments using laboratory-grade materials. Guidelines for lab report writing will follow The Student Lab Report Handbook by John D. Mays. Supplies can be found at Home Science Tools under the name “Economy Lab Kit for use with Novare General Chemistry.
Class time: Live class meetings on Zoom consist of lecture, discussion, problem-solving, and experimentation. Students are expected to read the text and take notes at home in addition to lectures.
NOTE: Parents will be expected to be present during laboratory exercises to ensure the safety of their students and the following of proper procedure. Together they will pre-read the exercise and set up supplies prior to class time. Procedures will be followed during scheduled class time. Questions can be asked to the instructor during the exercise.
Grading: The grade will be based on several components: participation in class, quizzes, tests, essays, and six written laboratory reports. Homework is to be self-graded, using the answer key, upon completion of practice problems for immediate feedback.
Office Hours: Office hours will be arranged as needed.
High School Credit: This course is equivalent to one high school credit in laboratory science.
For each skill instructors have determined whether it is a prerequisite skill or a skill to be developed throughout the course. For lower school, instructors indicate where parent support is expected.
- With Parent Support: Skills that most lower school students will need help with.
- Developing: Skills that the instructor will help develop and emphasize throughout the year.
- Mastered: Prerequisite skills that the instructor is expecting students to possess.
- Be able to manage Canvas assignments and submissions (view assignments, check for teacher messages, submit homework as pdf file, submit revisions if necessary, set Canvas notifications for the class, view class notifications when posted, etc.).
- Be able to set notifications settings to alert the student of class announcements, homework assignments, due dates, instructor comments made on assignments, instructor comments made on individual student submissions, instructor comments made on graded items, etc.
- Be able to review notifications ongoing throughout the year; notifications which include: class announcements, homework assignments, due dates, instructor comments made on assignments, instructor comments made on individual student submissions, instructor comments made on graded items, etc.
- Be able to respectfully and wisely engage with other students and the instructor on Canvas discussion boards.
- Be able to respectfully, wisely and formally engage with instructor through private Canvas messaging.
- Be responsible for reviewing teacher feedback, suggestions and comments about student work and employing that feedback as necessary.
- Be able to self-edit written submissions for grammar and spelling mistakes.
- Be able to hand-write answers in complete sentences.
- Be able to write sentences with basic sentence syntax (i.e. capitalization of first word in a sentence, punctuation at the end of each sentence, space between sentences, capitalization of proper nouns, each sentence having a subject and predicate, etc.).
- Be able to spell at grade level and employ course vocabulary cumulatively throughout the course.
- Be able to build and use alphanumeric outlines as part of the writing process.
- Be able to employ the feedback of the instructor into future edits and submissions of the assignment.
- Be able to read material independently and identify the information which might be relevant to course discussions and objectives (even if the student doesn’t fully understand all of what’s being read).
- Be able to mark, underline or highlight important words, definitions or concepts within a text being read both while reading independently and reading corporately as a class.
- Be able to identify key terms in a passage, and follow the author’s argument.
- Be able to read material independently and identify questions which require clarification or further explanation from the instructor.
- Be able to type short answers in complete sentences.
- Follow along with instructor-led note-taking and record notes during class.
- Follow along with instructor-led workbook completion and record answers during class.
- Be prepared to thoughtfully answer questions when called on in a group setting, during class.
- Be prepared to volunteer thoughtful comments, answers and ideas in a group setting, during class.
- Be prepared to generate thoughtful questions to enhance the class discussion, to identify areas needing clarification, and to make valuable connections with other course content.
- Follow class discussions and seminar conversations to record notes without the instructor identifying specifics.
- Be responsible to study at home for quizzes, tests and other assessments.
- Understand the difference between assignments given by an instructor and the necessary and independently initiated need for private study of material.
- Be able to schedule and manage multiple projects from multiple instructors and courses.
- Be able to schedule time outside of class to complete independent review of materials.
- Be able to determine the best places and ways to study at home (i.e. quiet, undistracted, utilizing various methods of review (auditory, written, visual, practice tests, flashcards, etc.).
- Understand that arriving at the correct answer is not the goal of mathematics review and practice, but rather understand that consistent application of the correct processes are the goals of review and practice.
- Be able to deductively apply content and previously learned mathematics skills and processes to the understanding of newly introduced content.
- General Chemistry by John D. Mays, 3rd Edition, Novare Science and Math, 2021
- Solutions Manual to Accompany General Chemistry, John D. Mays. – This is a companion answer key to the problems in the text allowing students to check their work. Do not purchase the Complete Solutions and Answers for General Chemistry (teacher only)
- Chemistry Experiments for High School at Home by Christina Swan and John D. Mays
- The Student Lab Report Handbook, 2nd Ed. By John D. mays
- Economy Lab Kit for use with Novare General Chemistry, Home Science Tools
- Household Items for Lab: Sand (sandbox sand or other coarse sand), aluminum foil, soda can, ethyl or isopropyl alcohol (>90% ) (16oz), baking soda, long-tipped butane lighter, distilled water, straight pin, three types of antacids (more info to come). Note: A parent is expected to be present during the formal experiments to assure adherence to the safety protocols. The students will be informed of additional, informal investigations utilizing household items that supplement certain concepts in chemistry. The laboratory supplies will need to be collected prior to class and the students must be ready to conduct the experiments during organized clas time.
- Scientific calculator
- Spiral notebook or loose-leaf
- 3-ring binder
- Index cards
*Required materials are not included in the purchase of the course.
Dr. Ralph “Rafe” E. Spraker, Jr. earned his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina (2010); Three Master’s degrees including an MSSE from Montana State University, Bozeman (2011); and Bachelor’s degree from BIOLA University (1983). His STEM cognates include: BioLogica: Biochemistry, Genomics, Molecular and Systems Biology; MatheMatica: Information Technology, Mathematics, Physics, Quantitative Analysis and Statistics; and GeoLogica: Astronomy, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Hydrology, and Physical Geography. His experience spans over 25 years in secondary, undergraduate, and graduate education. He also currently advises doctoral dissertation students in STEM.
Dr. Spraker maintains a two-mile segment of the Mountains to the Sea Trail segment from the “Raven Rock” [BRP Milepost 290] to the “Aho Gap” [BRP Milepost 288, Elevation 3722] which parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway near his home in Boone, NC. He enjoys photography and hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains and “Out West” (Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming) with his dear wife Debbie of 38 years. He enjoys studying Lutheran and Patristic theologians (“Solus Christus”) and reading about Revolutionary War history [he just finished Chernov’s George Washington: A Life]. firstname.lastname@example.org
“Quia Lex per Mosen data est Gratia et Veritas per Iesum Christum facta est.”
Ioannes I : XVII
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Webcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
Digital Tablet: Using a digital tablet in class allows students to more fully engage the course content by working out math problems on the digital whiteboard. We recommend using a Wacom Intuos tablet like this one, though similar products may be used.
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