Chemistry—Semester B

A record of what happens when we bring chemicals together and apply heat.

Shmoop's Chemistry course has been granted a-g certification, which means it has met the rigorous iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Courses and will now be honored as part of the requirements for admission into the University of California system.

This course has also been certified by Quality Matters, a trusted quality assurance organization that provides course review services to certify the quality of online and blended courses.

All right, so we know the basics about chemistry: what atoms are made of, what they look like (if we had super-powered zoom vision), and how they stick together to make the molecules we know and love (we're looking at you, sugar and caffeine). Now it's time to dive into what chemistry is really all about—and no, we're not talking about controlled laboratory explosions, although that's part of it.

At the heart of this course are chemical reactions. How exactly do all those persnickety elements manage to bond together and make compounds? How come sometimes those reactions give off enough heat to burst into flames, and other times suck in enough heat from their surroundings to form ice? And most importantly, what happens if we fiddle with subatomic particles themselves? Can we make a fission-powered snow cone machine, or maybe a fusion-powered oven that will bake cupcakes faster?

In this course, we'll talk about:

  • chemical reactions, including synthesis, decomposition, displacement, and yeah, combustion reactions.
  • stoichiometry, which will help us understand ratios, yields, and limiting reagents.
  • everything we ever wanted to know about solutions, and probably a couple of things we didn't want to know about solutions.
  • thermodynamics, which is the study of how heat, energy, and disorder play into chemical reactions.
  • organic chemistry, a.k.a. the chemistry of stuff that makes life possible.
  • and a healthy dose of nuclear chemistry and environmental chemistry, not that those two things go hand-in-hand.

Sounds like a lot, but not to worry. Each lesson is highly (re)active, and includes glossaries, readings, and activities that are tagged with the Next Generation Standards (NGSS), so we have all the bases covered.

P.S. This is Semester B of a two-semester course. You can check out Semester A here.

Unit Breakdown

  1. Chemistry—Semester B - Conducting Investigations in Chemistry

    We'll start this course off right, by laying down the law on the dos and don'ts of chemistry. Always wearing your goggles, designing scientific experiments, carefully measuring your data, and presenting your analysis in a clear way? All dos. Roasting marshmallows with the Bunsen burner? That's a don't.

  2. Chemistry—Semester B - Making Measurements and Calculations in Chemistry

    This wouldn't be a science course if we weren't taking measurements. Might as well make sure we know what we're doing there, right? That includes using those foreign-looking metric units that everybody else on the planet is so in love with.

  3. Chemistry—Semester B - Matter

    Here is where we'll learn what the matter with matter is. What it is, what it does, and what it doesn't—it's all on the agenda. This whole course is about matter, so we might as well know what we're dealing with here.

  4. Chemistry—Semester B - Atoms

    Small things are cute. It's just a fact of life—puppies, baby koalas, Knut, undersized hats: all cute. That means that atoms are just about the cutest things around, except for the subatomic particles that make them up. You'll need to brace yourself for a cuteness overload in this unit, as we delve into the tiny mysteries of these wee-tiny particles.

  5. Chemistry—Semester B - The Periodic Table

    When it comes to famous tables, the Periodic Table has pretty much zero competition. What other table can compete with describing every element in existence, and in enough detail to satisfy even the nosiest snoop? In this unit, we'll give you the inside scoop on how to get on this table's good side.

  6. Chemistry—Semester B - Electrons

    We'll be learning about the little negative particles that could in this unit. By spending some bonding time with Lewis, Bohr, Planck, and ol' Albert E, we'll get the skinny on the voodoo that electrons do.

  7. Chemistry—Semester B - Chemical Bonds

    Speaking of bonding, that's what this unit is all about. And speaking of electrons, that's what bonding is all about. We'll cover the rules for atoms joining up, along with what you call these new molecules. Look out, Filliam H. Muffman—there are some new celebrity couples in town.

  8. Chemistry—Semester B - Chemistry Meets Geometry

    Molecules aren't something that we just made up: they're real things. And that means they exist in the real world, in 3D space. Those tiny, can't-even-see-them particles have a shape, and it'll be important to know what it is for each molecule. We'll pass along the secret to predicting their shape in this unit.

  9. Chemistry—Semester B - Forces of Attraction

    Elmer's doesn't sell a glue that's small enough to work on individual atoms (probably because glue is made of atoms), so how do atoms stick together in molecules? And how do molecules interact with each other? The answers are "intra- and intermolecular forces," o' course. We'll cap off this semester by getting our hands all over these forces and seeing what sticks.

  10. Chemistry—Semester B - Chemical Reactions

    Chemistry wouldn't be so useful and fun if we couldn't make stuff with it. That's what this unit is all about—the reactions that let us go from the boring, everyday chemicals we have on hand to a new, exciting set of products. Who knows what we'll get? Soon, you will.

  11. Chemistry—Semester B - Stoichiometry

    Put away your crystal ball and cancel your subscription to Psychics Monthly—this unit has the real deal when it comes to predicting the future. Using stoichiometry, we'll be able to predict who, what, and how much of any chemical reaction. They aren't winning Lotto numbers, but you'll still be able to impress with your powers of prognostication.

  12. Chemistry—Semester B - Gas Laws

    Do you get gas? If so, you might want to to take an antacid (and open a window in the meantime). If not, you'll want to take this unit, which is all about the laws that govern gases' behavior. How do the pressure, temperature, and volume of a gas all relate to each other? We'll clear the air and give you all the details.

  13. Chemistry—Semester B - Solutions

    When you think of a chemist, you probably picture somebody in a lab coat and goggles, swishing chemicals around in beakers. Well, chances are good that the stuff in those beakers are suspended in a solution, so this unit is key to fulfilling all of your wildest chemist- and/or chemistry-related fantasies.

  14. Chemistry—Semester B - Thermodynamics and Kinetics

    Is it getting hot in here, or is it just this unit? Wait, it's definitely this unit, because it's all about thermodynamics: the movement of heat. Knowing about this stuff is good for more than deciding when to turn on the thermostat—it also lets us predict which reactions will happen without even saying "hello," and which ones need a bit of a kick start to get going.

  15. Chemistry—Semester B - Equilibrium

    The last couple units are pretty math-intensive, so this one will help you find your equilibrium. And chemical equilibriums as well. See, chemical reactions are technically two-way streets, and finding the reaction's equilibrium constant will let us figure out the flow of traffic. They're not as convenient as signs on the side of the road, but a lot easier to read when we're working at the atomic level.

  16. Chemistry—Semester B - Acids and Bases

    Is it getting acidic and basic in here, or is it just...wait, we did this joke already. Anyway, acids and bases have all kinds of special rules for their reactions. They're swapping around protons like they're at a swap meet. In this unit, we'll identify, classify, and analyze all kinds of acids and bases.

  17. Chemistry—Semester B - Organic Chemistry Basics

    Not all that glitters is gold, and not all that's organic is good eating, either. That's because calling something "organic" isn't just about all the farm-fresh goodies at the local farmer's market; gasoline is an organic molecule, too, and you don't see us filling up our tea cups at the pump. In this unit, we'll go over what it means for a chemical to be organic, along with some of the chemical oddities that make organic compounds so important to life as we know it.

  18. Chemistry—Semester B - Nuclear Chemistry

    We'll be learning about nuclear power in this unit. Calm down and cancel your Amazon order for a hazmat suit—it's not going to be that bad. We'll cover exactly what nuclear radiation is (as opposed to what Marvel tells you it is) and how to calculate how much nuclear material has decayed as time passes. Then we'll talk a bit about the pros and cons of nuclear energy, and even about our good buddy, the Sun. If nuclear power was so dangerous, would they really be able to keep Raisin Bran cereal on the shelves?

  19. Chemistry—Semester B - Environmental Chemistry

    We're going to wind down at the end of this course with some chemistry of the environmental kind. We'll apply what we've learned to explore humanity's impact on the environment, as seen through the lens of chemical reactions. And a thick layer of smog. We're kind of ending on a downer here. Whoops.

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