Understanding the Material World
Instructor: C. Chieh, Office C2-263, Tel. 888-4567-ext-5816;
- Course information
- Grade and evaluation
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
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
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
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.
- to ask strategic questions
- to identify desirable information (determine what is required)
- to search for desirable information
- to evaluate the reliability of information
- to apply the information
- to review the strategy
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 are available in the course Internet site
Please acquire a computer account if you do not already have one.
Other Reading Material
Any Chemistry Textbook you may have access to.
Radel, S.R. and Navidi, M.H. (First or Second Ed.) Chemistry, West Publishing
R.H. Petrucci, W.S. Harwood and F.G. Herring, General Chemistry
(Principles and Modern Applications), Prentice Hall, Eighth Edition, 2002.
Chapters already covered in Chem120/123
Atoms, molecules, and ions
The chemical bond
Chemical Bonding Theory
Liquids, solids, and intermolecular forces.
Metals and coordination chemistry.
Organic chemistry and the chemicals of life
Chapters for further reading:
Organic chemistry and the chemicals of life.
DeKock, B.L. and Gray, H.B. (1989) Chemical Structure and Bonding,
University Science Books. (CHEM218 Text for 1991 - 1992, currently used for Chem212). Selected material in various chapters.
Adams, D.M. (1974) Inorganic Solids, an introduction to concepts in
solid-state structural chemistry, John Wiley & Sons.
Ashby, M.F. and Jones, D.R.H. (1980) Engineering Materials, an
introduction to their properties and applications, Pergamon Press.
Brostow, W. (1979) Science of Materials, John Wiley and Sons.
Budinski, K.G. (1992) Engineering Materials, properties and selection,
Chapter 1: The structure of materials.
Chapter 2: Properties and selection
Chapters 3 - 6: about polymers Other chapters about metals, alloys, and ceramics.
Gillespie R.J. and Hargitai, I. (1991) The VSEPR Model of Molecular
Geometry, Allyn and Bacon.
Webster, B. (1990) Chemical Bonding Theory, Blackwell Scientific
D.D. Ebbing and S.D. Ga,,pm, General Chemistry, Houghton Mifflin
Company, 6th eddition, 1999 (Text used for Chem 120/123).
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.
- 10% Class discussion
- 50% Final Examination
- 40% Projects
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.
- Write an essay on an element or a group of elements. (Due September 30)
- Write an essay on a compound or a group of compounds. (Due October 21)
- Write an essay on an experimental method, an experiment, or a discovery.
(Due November 18)
- Write an essay and give a presentation on a chemistry subject.
Presentations are given on the last week of lectures. Schedule will
be given 2 or 3 weeks before lecture ends. The essay is due after
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
- Polystyrenes and Nylones
- The social, economic, industrial, aspects of ethanol
- Chemistry of baking
- Facts and oils
- Science chat: toxicity of lead and cadmium
- Food irradiation
- The atmosphere
- Carbon, carbon dioxide and photosynthesis
- Mercury toxicity
- Platinum and cancer
- Table salt - not just for French fries anymore
- DDT - still lingering in our environment
- Diamond in the rough
- The confusion world of sugars
- Carbon and sporting equipment
- Titanium, the wonder metal
- Aluminium, the once noble metal
- Rare earth elements
- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
- The chemistry of cement
- Chewing gums
- Soft lense materials