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Questions

1. How do chemists break matter down into smaller subunits? Describe subatomic particles and their roles.

2. If presented with a "mystery" atom, how would a chemist, hypothetically, determine the identity of that atom?

3. What are basic safety guidelines to follow when performing any type of chemistry lab?

4. How does the study of chemistry seek to understand the world?

5. What role do electrons play in chemistry? Why are they so important?

6. What kind of information is available from a periodic table?

7. How does a chemical equation represent a chemical reaction?

8. What is a chemical element and how do elements relate to chemical compounds?

9. How do physical and chemical changes differ?

10. How is bonding related to chemical reactions?

Possible Answers

1. How do chemists break matter down into smaller subunits? Describe subatomic particles and their roles.

Matter is broken down into smaller subunits called atoms. Each atom has a nucleus at its core. The nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons. The space surrounding the nucleus contains electrons, which are the smallest subatomic particles.

2. If presented with a "mystery" atom, how would a chemist, hypothetically, determine the identity of that atom?

Theoretically, a chemist would want to count the number of protons present in the atom. Then, the chemist would consult a periodic table to determine the identity of the atom. The number of protons present corresponds to the atomic number of an element and this information is available on a periodic table.

3. What are basic safety guidelines to follow when performing any type of chemistry lab?

Always read the directions for the lab carefully. Make sure to protect eyes by using goggles at all times. Close-toed shoes need to be worn to protect feet from mishaps. Long hair must be pulled back. In addition, equipment should be checked prior to the start of the lab. Finally, no chemicals should ever be consumed and the practice of wafting should be used.

4. How does the study of chemistry seek to understand the world?

Chemists seek to understand matter and the behavior of matter. Chemistry is the study of matter on an atomic level. Much of the behavior of matter that we see on a macroscopic level, such as chemical explosions, can be explained by what is occurring on a microscopic level, the atomic level.

5. What role do electrons play in chemistry? Why are they so important?

Electrons are the smallest subatomic particle. They are responsible for much of the chemistry we "see." Chemical reactions are a result of changes in bonding; in a chemical reaction, atoms switch out bonding partners. The desire to lose, gain, or share electrons is what drives bonding between atoms. Thus, electron transactions are responsible for chemical reactions.

6. What kind of information is available from a periodic table?

The periodic table is arranged so that atomic numbers increase from left to right. The number of protons found in any given element is on the periodic table. In addition, many of the vertical columns on the periodic table represent chemical families. In a chemical family, chemical trends exist amongst the members of the family. The periodic table also contains the element symbol for each element among many other pieces of information. We will look at the periodic table in more depth later.

7. How does a chemical equation represent a chemical reaction?

Chemists use chemical equations as shorthand to describe what is happening in a chemical reaction. Symbols for the elements, or chemical compounds, involved in the chemical reaction are shown. The reactants are always placed on the left-hand side of the arrow. The arrow itself represents that a chemical change has occurred. The products of the chemical reaction are placed on the right-hand side of the arrow.

8. What is a chemical element and how do elements relate to chemical compounds?

A chemical element is a pure substance that can be separated from other matter. All atoms of an element share the same number of protons in the nucleus. Elements are the building blocks of chemical compounds. In a chemical compound, at least two atoms from two or more different types of elements bond together.

9. How do physical and chemical changes differ?

The key to a physical change is that the chemical identity of a substance does not change. For example, ice melting into liquid water is an example of a physical change. The chemical compound, H2O, does not change even though a phase change takes place. In a chemical change however, atoms rearrange to form new bonds and as a result, new substances are formed.

10. How is bonding related to chemical reactions?

During a chemical reaction, rearrangements between atoms take place. Bonds are broken, and new bonds are formed. As a result, new substances are formed in a chemical reaction. It is not possible to form new substances without using atomic glue, or bonds.

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