Organic Chemistry - Course Description

Monday, August 13, 2012

This block considers chemical aspects of some major life processes that occur in plants, animals and human beings.  Themes that are explored through discussion, demonstrations and student experimentation include:
• Methods of chemistry as a laboratory science.
• How the chemistry of life processes was developed – history of science
• The balance inherent in chemical processes
• Practical applications of life chemistry

The goal is to find out something about the chemistry of life- what chemical transformations can we attribute to life?

Initially, the block focuses on developing skills and background in chemistry and provides some opportunities to explore experimental methods. Subsequently, students are asked to observe or to execute experiments that demonstrate aspects of important life-related processes. We examine the nature of gases and their roles in chemical reactions, especially in combustion. We examine our dependence on fossil fuels and viable alternative energy sources. Experiments involving photosynthesis and respiration establish fundamental properties and the relationship between these two processes. Through experimentation with fermentation and distillation, an application in the field of biofuels is taken up.