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Chemistry 115A - Richard Gammon

Winter 2000


Chemistry 115 - Winter, 2000 - 5 Credits

Instructor: Richard H Gammon

E Mail:

Office: Bagley 211

Phone: 543-1609

Hours: M(6:30-7:20 pm) T(4:30-5:20 pm) F(2:30-3:20pm) or by appt 

Required Text: Colin Baird , Environmental Chemistry (second edition), W. H. Freeman and Co., 1999

T.A: Diane Carney


Office: Bagley 331D

Phone: (685-8380)

Hours: 10:30-11:30 am Mondays

Lectures: M/W/F 1:30-2:20 pm B261

Quiz sections:

AA Tues 11:30-12:20 CHL 021

AC Tues 1:30- 2:20 MOR 226

Important Dates:

Midterm Exam: Friday, Feb 11, 1:30-2:20 pm (B261)

Final Exam: Monday, March 13, 2:30-4:20 pm (B261)

Grading components:

Final (30%)
Midterm (20%)
Paper (20%)
Homework/Labs (20%)
Participation (10%)

PHILOSOPHY: Chemistry 115 is a science-literacy course designed for non-science majors. It has no prerequisites and requires only very simple math skills. (Some exposure to high school chemistry is an advantage, but not essential). While primarily qualitative and descriptive in approach, this course does aim at sharpening your critical thinking skills, and at building your confidence in making approximate estimates of unknown quantities ('ball-park', back-of-the-envelope'), a very useful tool.

The course will provide an introduction to the fundamental principles of chemistry, as applied to the world around us, with special emphasis on current environmental chemical issues, from the local scale up to the global scale. You will see that having even this introductory understanding of chemistry (that is, how matter is ordered and reacts at the molecular scale) will give you powerful new insight into how the world works at our everyday human scale, and will better equip you to make scientifically informed decisions in your life.

ORGANIZATON: The course is in lecture-discussion/quiz section format. The lectures will include demonstrations, video/film, and possible presentations by guest speakers. There will be several homework problem sets, and out-of-class activities (e.g. water-sampling, take-home lab experiments, ..) You will also write a short paper on an approved topic in environmental chemistry relevant to this course. There is a midterm and a final exam.

CLASS PARTICIPATION: is very important--- there will have ample time for questions and class discussion in lecture, and for review and problem-solving in quiz sections. At least once during the quarter, each student is expected to bring in a relevant 'chemical' news item (newspaper, TV/radio report, web, etc) and briefly explain it to the class. Most lecture periods will have an opportunity for these short 'Chemical News-and-Views' presentations.

Week of


Text Chapter

Jan 3

Introduction, Stratospheric Ozone Chemistry


Jan 10

Stratospheric Ozone Loss (Already Healing?)


Jan 17

Air Chemistry Nearer the Ground


Jan 24

Urban Air Quality (Too much ozone down here)


Jan 31

Greenhouse Effect, Global Warming


Feb 11

Midterm exam


Feb 7

Predicting Climate Change (Global, Pacific NW)


Feb 14

Future Energy Choices and Consequences


Feb 21

Toxics (synthetic organics, heavy metals)


Feb 28

Water chemistry, water quality


Mar 6

Waste and recycling


Mar 13

Final Exam: 2:20-4:20 pm in B261

ASSIGNMENTS: will generally be made in lecture, and be due in quiz sections. Answer keys for the midterm and homeworks will be posted in our bulletin board space outside the lecture room (B261) and also put in a file at the Copy Center in the Undergraduate Library. Help with chemical fundamentals is available from your TA (Diane Carney) in quiz section and during office hours, and also from the staff at the Chemistry Study Center (B330, Monday-Thursday, 9 am-6 pm, and Friday, 9 am-2 pm). Some assignments and information may also be sent to you by e-mail and/or be available on the web-site for this class:


LECTURE: read the assigned chapter before coming to lecture. Lectures will generally include additional material not found in the text; you are responsible for both.

QUIZ SECTION: Homework and lab assignments will be turned in and graded work returned and explained in quiz section. This is the best place to review fundamental chemical concepts introduced in lecture, and to have your questions answered. Field sampling projects and take-home chemistry labs will also be coordinated in quiz sections.

PAPER: begin thinking already of an environmental chemistry topic you would like to explore in greater depth in your short paper (1000 words). Your topic needs to be approved by 1/24, a detailed outline or rough draft is due 2/21, and the final paper is due 3/6. Pick a topic relevant to the themes of this course: summarize the chemical fundamentals behind this environmental topic, including any major scientific uncertainties and/or research challenges at present, and briefly discuss possible societal impacts or the range of possible policy responses. Your topic does not need to be one we have covered in class or reading, but must be approved by your TA or instructor.

Department of Chemistry
University of Washington
Box 351700
Seattle, Washington, 98195-1700
Voice: (206)543-1610
FAX: (206)685-8665

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