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Understanding the Material World

Instructor: C. Chieh, Office C2-263, Tel. 888-4567-ext-5816; e-mail


Understanding the Material World

Instinctively, we measure and know materials by their macroscopic properties, the collective behavior of molecules. We use materials according to their properties. However, macroscopic properties are derived from or related to the characteristics of molecules and atoms, the tiny natural units or identities making the bulk of the materials. We should find relationship between the microscopic characteristic and bulk properties, and formulate general rules or theories regarding materials.

Since we cannot see molecules and atoms, we rely on theories and imaginations. Theories are nice descriptions regarding something we do not know, but they help us interpret facts and phenomena.

The purposes of Chem218 are to study both microscopic and macroscopic properties of material, investigate them, and find sources of information regarding them.

Reading Material

Since Chem218 is a project orientated course, you are expected to search desirable information from the library and Internet sources. There are also some information providers from whom you can get certain type of information. Furthermore, institutions such as StatCan, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the National Library of Canada also provide useful information and services. There are various resources via the Electronic Library at the University of Waterloo for searching information. The reference desk at the library often provide helpful techniques for using the library.

Some of the purposes of Chem218 are to learn

You will carry out research projects such as writing essays to develop these skills. Your essays will be judged for the type of information you present, and the appropriate usage of the information in your essay. So, be critical in your evaluation of the information before you adopt it for your essay.

The study of material includes experiments and information search. Experiments provide data, but some of the data may already be available in the literature. Regarding literature, you need to access the right kinds information from reliable sources. Please be critical regarding information and its sources. Retrieve and adopt only appropriate information.

Lecture Notes

Lecture Notes: Lecture notes are available in the course Internet site

Please acquire a computer account if you do not already have one.

Other Reading Material


Evaluation and Grade

Before you start, think of a big picture so that your essays are related to each other. Lectures provide chemical concepts for your research, essays and presentation. You may use any style to present your essay. Please write it for a level suitable for students in Chem218. When you make a claim, declare a theory, or present data or relavant information, please give the source of the information. This is what usually known as the reference or citation. No reference is needed for widely known facts or theories, because the information is already in the public domain. You may use any style for your references. The references may be listed in a format similar to that given in the Reading Material.

Here is an Internet site that offers guide to basic essay writing. This site provides links to other sites. Non of these gives a guide specifically writing an essay in science, but you may find the site helpful if you have a problem in writing.

Some Projects of Former Students