Chemistry 103:Introduction to Environmental Chemistry
Dr. Jonathan Gutow
Spring 1999
Lectures: 9:10-10:10 MWF (HS-457)
Labs: Monday (HS-401),sec 001: 12:40-2:50 P, sec 002: 3:00-5:10 P.
Office Hours: 10:20-11:20 am MTWF and 9:10-10:10 am Th in HS-446.
Phone: 424-1326. EŚmail:
Chemistry Main Office Phone : 424-1400

Required Materials

Text: Chemistry in Context: Applying Chemistry to Society, 2nd Edition. Please try to read each chapter before we begin discussing it in class. This will familiarize you with the vocabulary and concepts I will be discussing so that you can take notes more efficiently.

Lab Manual: Chemistry in Context Lab Manual, 2nd Edition.

Other: Safety goggles (available at the bookstore) and a calculator capable of handling scientific notation, square roots, powers and logs.

Subscription to e-mail discussion list: Instructions for subscribing in RESOURCES SECTION.


Exams: 3 @ 100 points each 300 (52.3 %)
Quizzes: 10 @ 3 points each (worst score replaced with average of others) 30 (5.2 %)
Laboratory: 4 points for doing experiment each week

1 point for filled in lab data sheet for each experiment

3 points for answering questions for each experiment

(first and last experiment have nothing to turn in)

104 (18.1 %)
Web Projects 2 @ 35 points each 70 (12.2 %)
Poster Project:   70 (12.2 %)
Total:   574(100.0 %)
The total points necessary to receive a particular grade are listed below. The instructor reserves the right to change the point total downward.

A: 482 AB: 446 B: 411 BC: 372 C: 333 CD: 296 D: 259

Extra Credit: All students are required to sign up for the class e-mail discussion group to pass the course. Two (2) points of extra credit, towards a maximum of 24 points, will be given for each question related to the course or answer to a question which is submitted. To get credit your submission must come from your student e-mail account so that the sender may be verified. If you make a submission from another account, you will have to turn in a hard copy with your student ID number on it to receive credit.

Exams/Quizzes: There will be 10 minute quizzes at the end of class every Friday on the chapter that is being discussed, except for March 5, April 16, May 7 and May 14. Your worst quiz score will be replaced with the average of your other quizzes. Do not skip quizzes early in the semester in case you get sick later and miss a quiz.

There will be three one hour exams in class. Although the exams are not cumulative you will need to know material from the earlier chapters to understand things covered on the later exams.

Exam I (chapters 1-3) Wednesday, March 3
Exam II (chapters 4-6) Wednesday, April 14
Exam III (chapter 9 & Fox River) Monday, May 10
Laboratory: The first and last experiments are worth 4 points (there is nothing to turn in), the remaining labs are worth 4 points per week of laboratory work plus 4 points for data sheets and questions turned in. Data sheets are due at the end of the laboratory period (make photocopies if you need them). If the questions cannot be answered during the laboratory period, they must be handed in by lecture on Friday of the week the experiment is completed. Up to four (4) points may also be deducted from any weekĺs laboratory score for not wearing safety goggles, wearing inappropriate attire, unsafe behavior or not attending lab (-4 pts). Two unexcused absences from lab will result in a failing grade for the course. To have an absence excused you must bring a written excuse to your instructor. There will be no make up labs, unless you can make it to the other laboratory section.

Web Projects: From each of the two categories below you are to choose a single issue and find two websites with different points of view on the issue. Write a short essay about the issue consisting of three paragraphs: 1) summarizing the point of view of the website on one side of the issue; 2) summarizing the point of view of the website on the other side of the issue; 3) explaining which side you agree with and why. The third paragraph should include a critical analysis of the quality of the information in the websites. You need to answer the question, "Is the content of the websites verified or verifiable factual information or just hearsay?" Send the web addresses and the essay by e-mail to the instructor any time before the date shown below. Each of these two submissions will be scored out of 35 points (each website appropriate to the issue-6,each complete summary paragraph-6, a well reasoned point of view-6, grammar/spelling-5).

  Due Before Choose from one of these issues
Category 1 Wednesday, February 24 Air Pollution, Ozone Depletion, Global Warming
Category 2 Wednesday, April 7 Energy Conservation, Alternative Energy Sources, Water Conservation, Water Pollution, Acid Rain
Poster Project: You may work alone or in groups of two to produce an informative poster critically analyzing an environmental journal article. The articles must have been published after May 1998 and may come from Scientific American, National Geographic, Environmental Science and Technology, Science, Nature, Ecology or Environment. Your article must be approved by the instructor. It is expected that you will have to use additional references to understand and analyze the article. The poster is worth 70 points (visual presentation-10, grammar/spelling/format-10, references-5, information content/accuracy-30, ability to answer questions during poster session-15). You must submit intermediate steps in this project. Five (5) points will be deducted from your final score for each deadline that you miss.
Group Choices Friday, February 12
Copy of article due for approval Friday, February 19
List of two additional references Wednesday, March 10
Summary/list of main points to be addressed Wednesday, March 31
Summary/list of conclusions Friday, April 30
Completed poster submitted Friday, May 7
Homework: Homework is not graded. Answer keys will be provided to allow you to study for the quizzes and exams. Answers to some of the in-text exercises may be found in appendix 5. Complete answer keys will be available a few days after the problems are assigned. Answer keys will be on reserve in Halsey Resource Center (HS-259) and posted on the Chemistry 103 website, accessible through links on your instructors home page ( You should do the homework since it will prepare you for the tests and quizzes.

Course Policies:

Absences: The reason for any excused absences must be reported to your instructor (before the absence, if possible), and substantiated in writing by the appropriate person (i.e. doctor, parent, etc.). Assignments and tests missed because of an excused absence will not count against your record, but you will be held responsible for material covered during your absence.

Grading Errors: To be considered for possible regrading any mistakes must be brought to the attention of your instructor within one week of the time the exam, quiz or project is returned to you.

Final Grade Check: You are responsible for checking that your final score is correct. Save all papers, exams and quizzes until the final course grade has been determined.


Chem 103 Website: Contains lots of useful information: copies of this syllabus, links to interesting sites related to this course, a regularly updated announcement page, information on tutors, homework assignments and answer keys. This site is under construction so your suggestions of things to include would be appreciated. Most of the site is publicly accessible, however if you try to access homework information, answer keys and the regularly updated announcement page you will be asked for a username and your password. The username is "chem10399". The password will be provided the first day of class.

E-mail Discussion Group: "envirochem-list" You are required to subscribe to this listserve to pass the course and can receive extra credit by submitting questions or answers to the discussion. You should check your e-mail daily to get the maximum benefit from this listserve. The instructor will attempt to answer any questions that are not answered by your fellow students within 48 hours. To subscribe send e-mail to: The body of the message should contain the word "subscribe" and nothing else. To submit messages to the list simply send e-mail to When replying to questions submit them to the list, do not use the "reply" option in your mailer. Usually, "reply" sends the message only to the original poster.

Help/Study Session: A group help/study session will be held on Wednesdays at 3:30-4:30 PM in room 456 of the Halsey Science Building (HS-456), beginning Wednesday, February 3.

Course Objectives: The overall objective of this course is to help you become scientifically literate. As citizens of a democracy we are often called upon to make decisions that involve scientific issues. Our modern technological society is the result of scientific research and its application. Since we are so dependent upon the scientific enterprise, it is a wise policy to be aware of how it works, what it can and cannot do, and how it impinges upon our lives. In this course the emphasis is on how the scientific discipline of chemistry can help us understand contemporary environmental issues, and what it tells us about possible solutions to environmental problems the world is facing.

The specific issues, concepts and skills that you should learn are listed in the Chapter Summary and Concept Web sections at the end of each chapter.

Tentative Class Schedule:

Week Starting Lectures Laboratory* Exam/Quiz Projects
(2/1) Chp 1: The Air We Breathe Safety/ Check-in/ Scientific Method Handout/ Pick up snow sampling bottles Quiz 1 Start thinking about first web project/do some searches.
(2/8) Chp 1/Chp 2: Ozone Layer #1-Gases in a Breath. DS Questions #1-4 Quiz 2 Poster project group choices due Fri. 2/12 
(2/15) Chp 2: Ozone Layer #3-Spectrophotometry. DS Questions #3, 6, 7 Quiz 3 Copy of poster article due Fri. 2/19
(2/22) Chp 3: Global Warming #5-Molecular Models. DS Questions #1, 3, 5 Quiz 4 First web project due before Wed. 2/24
(3/1) Chp 4/review (3/2)

Chp 4: Energy and Society (3/6)

#7-Chemical Moles. DS Questions #2, 3, 5 Exam I (Chps 1-3)

Wed. 3/3

(3/8) Chp 4: Energy and Society #8-Hot Stuff. Turn in group procedure and results. Quiz 5 Poster project list of 2 additional references due Wed. 3/10
(3/22) Chp 4/ Chp 5: The Wonder of Water #9-Energy Content of Fuels.

Bring soda cans. DS Questions #1, 2, 6

Quiz 6  
(3/29) Chp 5/ Chp 6: Acid Rain #12-Water Hardness. Bring samples. DS Questions #2, 3, 5, 6 Quiz 7 Poster project summary of main points addressed due Wed. 3/31
(4/5) Chp 6: Acid Rain #17-Solubilities. Turn in group procedure and results.  Quiz 8 Second web project due before Wed. 4/7
(4/12) Chp 9/review (4/13)

Chp 9: Energy sources (4/17)

#16-pH of Snow/Rain. Bring 3 samples. DS Questions #1, 2, 4 Exam II (Chp 4-6)


(4/19) Chp 9: Energy sources #14-Pollutant Gases. DS Questions #1-4 Quiz 9  
(4/26) Chp 9/Lower Fox River Inorganics in water-Handout Quiz 10 Poster project summary of conclusions due Fri. 4/30 
(5/3) Lower Fox River/

review (5/8)

Organics in water and Sediment-Handout   Poster due Fri. 5/7
(5/10) Sewage Treatment Visit water treatment plant(s) Exam III

(Chp 9&Lower Fox)

Mon. 5/10

Poster Session Fri. 5/14
*DS = Data sheet due.