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General Chemistry (Honors)

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.

Required Materials:
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.

  • 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 class time.
  • Scientific calculator
  • Spiral notebook or loose-leaf
  • 3-ring binder
  • Index cards

Marv Retzer, Chemistry Instructor, began teaching in 1977. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Grace College, a Master of Arts degree in Christian School Administration from Grace Theological Seminary and completed EdD (ABD) studies at Ball State University in Educational Leadership with a Curriculum cognate. Mr. Retzer began his undergrad studies in medical research before switching to Elementary Education and, with his extensive Math and Science background, has taught MS-HS Math and Science classes for over 20+ years in addition to work in administration. Mr. Retzer’s personal scientific “love” is for Chemistry and he was privileged to receive a summer Eisenhower Fellowship in the 1980’s to study Microscale Chemistry at MIT in Boston. “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:3 ESV) Mr. Retzer’s goal is for all students to see the majesty and power of God in creation through the study of Science.

Red checkmarkComputer: 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.

Red checkmarkHigh-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.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: 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

Red checkmarkZoom: 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. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Red checkmarkScanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.


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