Honors Chemistry
Chemistry CP
AP Chemistry
Test Success
About Dr. V.

Honors Chemistry

Honors Chemistry is designed for students who have demonstrated strong ability in previous science courses.  In this fast-paced, demanding course, the main topics--which include atomic theory, nuclear chemistry, periodicity, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, gases, solutions, reaction kinetics, equilibrium, acid-base theory, oxidation-reduction, and organic chemistry--are studied at an advanced level, with an focus on both conceptual understanding and problem-solving.  Quantitative aspects of chemical concepts are emphasized throughout the course.  Laboratory experimentation is an integral part of this class, and students write a number of formal reports which require demonstration of a sophisticated understanding of the relevant theories and principles.  Students are expected to work cooperatively in both laboratory and classroom settings and to take individual responsibility for meeting the objectives of the course.  This course is particularly well suited for students considering careers in science, engineering, or medicine.

Our textbook  Introductory Chemistry:  A Foundation 7e (Zumdahl and DeCoste)   

Questions?  Need help?  E-mail Dr. Vanderveen  Students are NOT allowed to use graphing or programmable calculators during classroom tests.  (This will be strictly enforced.)  If you need advice on selecting or using a suitable calculator, ask Dr. VanderVeen or for extra help before the test.


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General Course Information

Additional links are available by viewing the assignment sheets for each unit.

Current Unit


Unit 8:  Modern Atomic Theory and Periodicity

We will compare early ideas on atomic structure to the the modern, quantum mechanical model of the atom.  As we learn to describe the arrangements of electrons in atoms, we will be ready to relate element reactivity to electron configurations.  We will also discuss explore  the regular and repeating trends in the properties of the elements.  We will examine the arrangement of the periodic table and the connections between electron configurations and reactivity.  This will include exceptional electron configurations, typical ions formed by the elements, and Lewis dot structures to represent those most important electrons, the valence electrons.













Online Resources

       Tutorials on quantum numbers

        and electron configurations




Unit 8:  Chemical Bonding

Why and how do atoms combine to form compounds?  In this unit, we will draw Lewis structures to describe bonding and discuss several models to describe chemical bonding.  Attractions between molecules will also be considered.  A number of interactive and visual resources will be used to enrich the learning experience.    This year, students will complete a detailed creative writing assignment as the summative assessment for the unit.  Expect the occasional pop  quiz!

Handouts Resources









Upcoming Units



  • 2017-2018 Science Fair   

        Interested in participating in this year's science fair?  Please consult with D

All chemistry students are encouraged to participate in the annual Science Fair.  Project proposals are due to Dr. V ASAP! 

        Science Fair Proposal Form

        Science Fair Report Instructions




Unit 9:  Nuclear Chemistry

In this brief unit, we will consider the factors that make for unstable nuclei--and what then happens to those radioisotopes.  We will learn to balance nuclear equations, solve radioactive dating problems involving half-lives, and calculate binding energies.  We will also consider medical applications of radioisotopes and the effects of radiation on human tissue.





Unit 11:  Gases

Aah, gases, everyone's favorite unit.  Governed by the simple elegance of Kinetic Molecular Theory, we can use the ideal gas law to predict the behaviors of gas samples by looking at the variables of pressure, volume, temperature and moles.  Graham's Law, the Combined Gas Law, Boyle's Law, Charles' Law and Guy-Lussac's Law--we'll visit them all.  Keep your calculators handy!




                Look at the Chemtours for Chapter 6 (especially Ideal Gas Law and Dalton’s Law)

                               Animations to explore gas properties



Webcasts Links

Unit 12:  Liquids and Solutions

In this  brief unit, we will revisit solutes, solvents, and concentration units.  We will interpret solubility graphs to solve problems and relate this to our knowledge of intermolecular attractions.  We will also explore the differences between colloids and suspensions.  We will explore the effect of adding solute on the freezing point of solutions in the laboratory and learn about other "colligative" properties.



Lab:  Freezing Point Depression (Guided Inquiry)Adobe PDF icon


Solutions Notes (Powerpoint)

Colligative Properties NotesAdobe PDF icon

Colloids Notes Adobe PDF icon




Some useful links




Unit 13:   Kinetics and Equilibrium (Ch. 17)

These topics are interrelated and fit well into a single unit.  First, we will study reaction rates, using collision theory as the guiding principle.  (We will supplement the textbook, which doesn't go into enough detail regarding reaction kinetics.)  We will then explore reversible reactions and develop the concept of equilibrium and the equilibrium constant.  We will also investigate the effect of stresses on equilibrium systems.


Chapter 17 Assignment SheetAdobe PDF icon

Kinetics Problem Set

The Reaction QuotientAdobe PDF icon

Rate Laws Problem SetAdobe PDF icon

 Chapter 17 Review SheetAdobe PDF icon

http://web1.uct.usm.maine.edu/~newton/Chy251_253/Lectures/Reactions/ReactionProfiles.html   Potential  energy diagrams

An excellent LeChatelier's Principle animation

http://www.wwnorton.com/college/chemistry/chemistry3/ch/15/chemtours.aspx    These are particularly lucid—especially helpful tutorials if you are absent for any reason!

                        Chapter 14:       Reaction Rates                          Chapter 15:       Equilibrium

                                                Reaction Order                                                  LeChatelier’s Principle

                                                Reaction Mechanisms

                                                Collision Theory


Design your own experiment:  Virtual Kinetics LabAdobe PDF icon

PHet Simulation    Student Handout

Modelling Equilibrium MinilabAdobe PDF icon

LeChatelier's Principle LabAdobe PDF icon

Chapter 17 Notes (Powerpoint)


Some Useful Websites:


Unit 14:  Acids, Bases, and Salts (Chapter 16)

We eat oranges and cook with vinegar--everyday sources of acids.  We clean the windows with ammonia solutions and use Drano to unclog the sink--everyday sources of bases.  What is the difference between acids and bases?  What does the pH scale tell us?  And best of all--titrating!  We will also apply our understanding of equilibrium to acids and bases.







pH scale and pH calculations

Strong vs. weak acids

Acid-Base Theories

Neutralization Reactions

Titration Calculations

The Titration Process



Unit 15:  Redox and Electrochemistry

Some chemical reactions convert chemical energy into electrical energy.  This occurs when atoms gain electrons ("reduction") or lose electrons ("oxidation").  We will learn to recognize this class of reaction.  Additionally, these reactions can be harnessed to create batteries! We will use our knowledge of oxidation-reduction processes (or "redox") to predict the voltage produced in electrochemical cells.

End of the year review--It will be here sooner than you realize!


Past Units


Unit 1:  Matter and Measurements

Unit 1 sets the stage for the rest of the year.  We start by exploring appropriate use of data in science, using significant figures for both measurements and calculations, through a series of hands-on activities.  Students learn how to use dimensional analysis (also known as factor-label) in problem solving.  We then proceed to comparing different classifications of matter on both the macroscopic and microscopic (particle) levels.  We will also learn about energy relationships in various situations.


Handouts Pair Tutoring:  Metric Prefixes

Pair Tutoring:  Elements 1-10




Powerpoints (PDF versions)



Additional Resources


Unit 2:  Introduction to Atomic Theory and the Periodic Table (Chapter 4)

The structure of the atom is a central theme in chemistry.  In this unit, we will trace the development of an atomic theory of matter and changes to the theory as new experiments result in further insights.   We will also discuss the development of the periodic table and use the periodic table to discuss trends in elemental properties.





Notes Labs


Online Resources Other Periodic Tables









Unit 3:  Chemical Names and Formulas

This unit is all about communicating in chemistry.  To avoid language barriers and confusion due to common names for substances (e.g., milk of magnesia, Epsom salts, or sugar of lead) chemists around the world use a standard  system to describe chemical formulas.  We will be focusing on Stock notation for ionic compounds and simple prefixes for naming binary covalent compounds. At the end of this unit, students will be able to correctly write chemical names from formulas and formulas from chemical names. 


Writing names and formulas are fundamental skills in any chemistry course.  Students must master this unit for continued success in this class.   The key to success?  Lots and lots of practice!  (Sorry, there are no shortcuts.)



Web resources for learning the polyatomic ions


  Online resources for formula writing and nomenclature






Online Resources for practicing formula writing and nomenclature



Unit 4:  Chemical Reactions

Balancing chemical equations is easy!  Just remember the number one rule:  conservation of mass.  Classifying reactions by type makes it possible to predict the products for a wide variety of chemical changes. 

Chemical Reactions Assignment Sheet (Chapters 6 & 7)  Adobe PDF icon   

Solubility Table

Activity Series

Classes of Chemical Reactions



Chemical Reactions Review Sheet Adobe PDF icon



Lab:  Precipitation in Double Displacement Reactions Adobe PDF icon


Lab:  Single Replacement Virtual Minilab


Some Useful Websites:

Unit 5:  Compositional Stoichiometry and the Mole

This unit marks an emphasis on the mathematics of chemistry.  We will revisit dimensional analysis and introduce a new conversion factor, the mole and Avogadro's number.  (Why does she have a stuffed mole named Avogadro?)  We will also learn about ways to quantitatively describe the composition of substances:  gram formula mass, percent composition and empirical formulas.  We will use the molarity formula to describe the composition of solutions.  While most of the material is straightforward, even easy, students will find plenty of challenge problems, too! 


Learning Objects from the University of Wisconsin Online








Unit 6:  Stoichiometry

Sometimes, chemistry is like cooking.  How much product can we make from a given amount of the ingredients?  Factor label (aka, dimensional analysis) takes a leading role as we explore mass and mole relationships in chemical reactions.  This year, we will incorporate some organic chemistry into this unit.




Interactive Practice and Tutorials









 Some Useful Websites

http://www.softschools.com/quizzes/chemistry/ Stoichiometry quizzes I-VI










Organic Chemistry Handouts

Unit 7:   Energy

In this unit, we will explore the relationship between chemistry and energy--an important relationship as our society debates our dependence on petroleum and the renewable energy sources. The true beauty of thermodynamics lies in the durability of these ideas, as these principles are completely independent of atomic theory.  State functions are extremely useful, and now you can discuss the reasons why reactions occur and find the enthalpy change of a reaction using two (related) but apparently dissimilar methods.  Laboratory experiments will reinforce our knowledge of heating/cooling problems, phase changes, and problem solving strategies.  We will also introduce the concepts of heat of reaction and driving forces for natural processes.



Lab:  Exothermic and Endothermic Reactions Adobe PDF icon 

Minilab:  Heat of Fusion of IceAdobe PDF icon

Lab:  Hess' LawAdobe PDF icon

Lab:  Calculations with a Chemical Reaction Adobe PDF icon

Thermodynamics Notes (Powerpoint)

Thermodynamics from NASA

Chemical Thermodynamics


Heat vs. Temperature;  Heating/Cooling Curves

Thermochemical Equations

Hess' Law and Enthalpies of Formation

Entropy and Driving Forces

                               Chapter 5:  State Functions, Heating Curves, Hess’ Law

                               Chapter 14:  Entropy, Gibb’s free energy



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Neat link:  A History of the Periodic Table, from the Kojo Nnamdi show (WAMU)



This page was last updated on 02/06/2018

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