Chemistry 120

CHEM 120
Chemistry of Life

Catalog Entry

CHEM 120. Chemistry of Life
Three hours lecture; three hours laboratory (4)

Prerequisites: none

The most fundamental and general concepts and techniques of general, organic, and biochemistry will be presented by concentrating on the chemistry necessary to understand living systems. This course has been approved for General Education credit-Physical and Natural Sciences.

Credit will not be given for both CHEM 120 and CHEM 103. CHEM 101 and 102 are the prerequisites for all upper-level courses in chemistry.


Detailed Description of the Course

An outline of the topics covered is:

  • Metric system
  • Atoms
  • Compounds
    • Ionic
    • Covalent
      • Polar
      • Nonpolar
  • Chemical reactons
    • Types
      • Precipitation
      • Acid-base
      • Redox
    • Energy
    • Reaction rates
    • Reversible reactions and chemical equilibrium
  • Solutions
    • Concentrations
    • Electrolytes and nonelectrolyes
    • Osmosis
    • Dialysis
    • Colloids
    • Gas/gas and gas/liquid systems
  • Acids and bases
    • Definitions
    • Titrations
    • pH
    • Buffer solutions
  • Radiochemistry
    • Nuclear decay
    • Radioactive half-life
  • Organic chemistry
    • Alkanes
    • Alkenes
    • Alynes
    • Functional groups
      • Alcohols
      • Ethers
      • Ketones
      • Carboxylic acids
      • Esters
      • Amides
      • Amines
  • Biochemistry
    • Carbohydrates
    • Proteins
    • Lipids
    • Nucleic acids
    • Enzymes
    • Vitamins
    • Hormones
    • Metabolism

Examples of laboratory experiments are:

  • Mathematical exercises
  • Measurements and the metric system
  • Types of chemical reactions
  • Reversible reactions and equilibrium
  • Electrolytes and nonelectrolytes
  • Colloids and Osmosis
  • Solubility and driving force
  • Acid-base titrations and buffers
  • Measurement of pH
  • Water analysis
  • Models of organic molecules
  • Preparation of a pharmaceutical product
  • Preparation of a household product
  • Nutritional values of foods
  • Thin layer chromatography


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

CHEM 120 is a lecture and laboratory course. One hundred and fifty minutes each week is a lecture format, in which students are encouraged to participate and ask questions. Although this course is not as mathematical as the traditional introductory courses, the development of logical solutions to complex problems, especially living systems, will be emphasized. To help students prepare for tests, they are given weekly homework assignments and/or quizzes. The three hour laboratory period consists of a safety and laboratory introduction lecture, actual laboratory performance by the student, and completion of a laboratory report.


Student Goals and Objectives of the Course

Upon completion of this course students will:

  • have a greater appreciation of the chemistry of living systems
  • understand the basic terminology used in chemistry
  • be better able to solve word problems
  • be able to use standard laboratory equipment to perform experiments


Assessment Measures

Assessment of the student’s success in the course is based on the performance on three or four tests, the final exam, homework problems and/or quizzes, and laboratory reports. The weight of each assessment tool will be announced by the instructor of the course.


Other Course Information



Review and Approval

October 2005 Walter S. Jaronski, Department of Chemistry and Physics