BU Logo


CH101 General Chemistry, Fall 2018


The first lecture exam, Tuesday (Monday schNedule), October 9, 6:30–8:30 pm, follows the Columbus Day holiday weekend. It will not be given at any other time and failure to take the exam will result in a 0 for that exam, so please make weekend travel plans accordingly.

The third lecture exam, Monday, November 19, 6:30–8:30 pm, is two days before Thanksgiving recess. It will not be given at any other time and failure to take the exam will result in a 0 for that exam, so please make Thanksgiving recess travel plans accordingly.

The Final Exam is Monday, December 17, 6–8 pm. It will not be given at any other time and failure to take the exam will result in a 0 for that exam, so please make end-of-semester plans accordingly.

Welcome to CH101 General Chemistry. This is the first semester of a year-long course intended primarily for science majors, pre-medical students, engineering students who require a one-year course, and other interested students. This syllabus is designed to answer many questions you may have. Please read it over and then keep it handy to use throughout the semester. If you have questions about the material or the course, we encourage you to use the course online discussion forum. Everyone in the course follows this forum and so this is the fastest way to get your questions answered.


The course is given by

Senior Lecturer Alexander Golger (SCI/270C, 617-353-2124, golger@bu.edu) is the course coordinator and is in charge of the laboratory part of CH101. Alex Golger and Post-doctoral Faculty Fellow Dr. Nathaniel Hatmann share teaching of the pre-lab lectures.

Discussion sections are led by Senior Lecturer Natalya Bassina (SCI/270A, 617-353-4716, nbassina@bu.edu), with help from graduate teaching fellows Melissa Burrows, Dr. Nathaniel Hatmann, Elizabeth Karnaukh, Manav Kunar, Mary Malloy, and Jacob Marasco, with help from undergraduate learning assistants. Natalya Bassina also is in charge of class scheduling and other administrative aspects of the course.

Required course materials

The text for this course is based on an abridged, custom, online edition of the Canadian text Mahaffy et al., Chemistry: Human Activity, Chemical Reactivity, second edition, ISBN 9781305284203. We have arranged for the online edition to be purchased online directly from the publisher and includes the online version of the text only and access to online activities.

The online course key is E-26E6YKUGF8RSM

To purchase, go to


Should you also want a printed copy of the current, second edition text, you may purchase a used copy available at various places.

In addition to the text above, the following seven items are required:

  1. ALEKS General Chemistry online personal tutoring. The cost is $75 and is to be purchased online as described here.
  2. The Turning Technologies ResponseCard RF Clicker (ISBN 978-1-934931-68-4). You must use only your own clicker. Using a clicker belonging to someone else will constitute academic misconduct.
  3. Golger, General Chemistry CH101 Laboratory Manual, (Hayden McNeil Publishing, 2018, ISBN 978-1-5339-0351-8).
  4. Laboratory notebook, Hayden McNeil Publishing; the 50-page version should be sufficient.
  5. Approved safety goggles, item #9301, also required in organic chemistry.
  6. Laboratory coat, also required in organic chemistry.
  7. A lock to secure your belongings in the locker when in the laboratory
  8. Finally, you are required to use the Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS 2-Line Scientific Calculator for this course, available from Amazon.com for about $11 and elsewhere. This is the only calculator that we will allow you to use to do discussion quizzes and course exams. Using a different calculator on exams or quizzes will constitute academic misconduct.

Be aware that it is a Massachusetts State Law that safety goggles are mandatory in the laboratory. In the lab, all students who wear contact lenses should wear prescription glasses under their safety goggles. Contact lenses are forbidden in the lab. Also, all students must wear the appropriate clothing: long pants, long sleeves and closed shoes (no sandals or flip-flops).

Using the Mahaffy et al., 2e, eBook

Your Mahaffy et al., eBook subscription includes detailed help on all of the end-of-chapter questions. To access this help, and all of the other eResources in each chapter, do the following.

  1. Login to https://login.cengagebrain.com
  2. Next to the "MindTap Reader" listing, click on Open, to display the eBook Table of Contents
  3. Click any chapter you are interested in, to display its detailed contents.
  4. Select the part of the chapter you are interested in to access all of its eResources.

A PDF of the index of the textbook is here. The page numbers in the index refer to the printed text. To go to the corresponding location in the eBook, click the Search icon and then enter the page number, and then click the result to go to that place in the eBook.

Course schedule

  • First lectures: September 4 (A3) and 5 (A1, A2, and A4)
  • First discussions: September 6 and 7
  • First pre-lab lecture: Week of September 10
  • First lab: Week of September 17

The course consists of five required components:

  • lecture,
  • discussion,
  • pre-lab lecture,
  • lab (CH103 does not have a lab component), and
  • exams, Mondays 6:30–8:15pm. Note: The 6:30–8:15pm Monday time is a required meeting time, but it will be used only for exams.

There are two and a half hours of lecture meetings each week, and these lecture meetings are held in SCI/109 at alternative times:

You are required to attend your assigned lecture meeting.

There is a 50 minute discussion each week, on Thursday or Friday. Discussions meet starting Thursday, September 6.

There is one two-hour and fifty minute laboratory each week. There will also be a laboratory lecture:

  • P1: Wednesday 3:35–4:25pm in SCI/109
  • P2: Thursday 11:15am–12:05pm in MOR/101
  • P3: Friday 2:30–3:20pm in MOR/101

Pre-Lab lectures begin the second week of the semester. The first laboratory lecture is the week of September 10. You are required to attend your assigned pre-lab lecture meeting. Labs begin the third week of the semester on Monday, September 17. You are required to attend your assigned lab.

The 6:30–8:15pm sessions are used only for the lecture exams and the lab exam. On lecture exam days there will be no Monday lecture (sections A1, A2, and A4) and the preceding Thursday or following Tuesday evening lecture (section A3) will be shortened to 30 minutes; the section A3 lecture that will be shortened will be announced the week preceding the exam. For the lab exam, Monday lectures will be held as usual.

If you have not yet registered for all of the five components of the course (three for CH103), please do so right away. All grade records are based on the registrar information, so we require that you be officially registered and that you attend the corresponding lecture, discussion and lab.

Exams and quizzes

There will be three lecture exams, a lab exam and a course final exam as follows:

  • Lecture exams: Tuesday (Monday schedule), October 9; Monday, October 29; and Monday, November 19 All exams are 6:30–8:15pm in locations to be announced before each exam. Exam durations may be shortened.
  • Lecture quizzes: Lecture quizzes are given in most lectures, based on material covered in the lecture. If you are absent, missed lecture quizzes count as 0. Each TurningPoint question to be graded as a quiz will be clearly marked. Details of lecture quiz grading are here.
  • Pre-Lab lecture quizzes: Every lecture, based on your preparation of material to be covered in the lecture and the previously performed CH101 labs. If you are absent, the missed quiz counts as 0.
  • Discussion quizzes: These quizzes assess your understanding of topics covered in previous lectures, discussions, and homework. A missed quiz counts as 0. The lowest discussion quiz score will be dropped.
  • Lab exam: Monday, December 10, 6:30–8:15pm in locations to be announced beforehand. The exam duration may be shortened.
  • Final exam: To be determined. The exam duration may be shortened.

Exams are given only at the scheduled time. A missed exam counts as 0. In particular, please note the following:

  • The first lecture exam, Tuesday (Monday schedule), October 9, 6:30–8:30 pm, follows the Columbus Day holiday weekend. It will not be given at any other time and failure to take the exam will result in a 0 for that exam, so please make weekend travel plans accordingly.
  • The third lecture exam, Monday, November 19, 6:30–8:30 pm, is two days before Thanksgiving recess. It will not be given at any other time and failure to take the exam will result in a 0 for that exam, so please make Thanksgiving recess travel plans accordingly.
  • The Final Exam day and time has not yet been determined by the registrar. We will let you know as soon as it has been determined. It will not be given at any other time and failure to take the exam will result in a 0 for that exam, so please make end-of-semester plans accordingly.

No electronic devices in classes

We require that no electronic devices (cell phones, computers, tablets, etc.) may be used in lectures, discussions, and labs.


To help you get the greatest benefit you are able to during these class times.

Academic Conduct

All students at Boston University are expected to maintain high standards of academic honesty and integrity. It is the responsibility of every student to be aware of the Academic Conduct Code’s contents and to abide by its provisions, as detailed at


Please note carefully that we treat cheating with zero tolerance. The consequences of cheating are at a minimum that the score for work on which cheating occurs counts as 0, and a letter detailing the cheating is sent to the student's advisor, the dean of CAS, and placed in the student's academic file. Possible further consequences are referral to Academic Conduct Committee and additional penalties, including possible expulsion from university.

Course Web and online discussion

The course Web at


and the online discussion forum Piazza are used extensively in this course. Sign up for Piazza at


All posts to Piazza go to everyone in the course and so this is the fastest way to get your questions answered and to help your classmates with their questions.

Finally, should you have personal concerns, please email them to ch101-questions@bu.edu.

Each student is required to have an email account on the Boston University computer network. It is easy to activate your account, if you have not already done so (there is no charge to use your account): Go to Information Technology, 111 Cummington Street, and they will set you up. Be sure to ask for their handouts on how to use the World Wide Web and email. Your email address will automatically be added to the course email address. Please note that use of university computing facilities is governed by the BU Conditions Use and Policy on Computing Ethics,


Abuse can result in severe sanctions, including fines and academic probation or suspension.

What we will cover

We have designed the course as an introduction to general chemistry that integrates laboratory explorations with the development of the analytical tools necessary to understand and guide those explorations. Some particular aspects that we will emphasize are

  • mathematics as a tool for the exposition and manipulation of chemical concepts
  • the connection between microscopic models of matter and its macroscopic properties
  • the connections between applications from pure and applied research and from technology to chemistry

Our goal is to help you share in our excitement for and the wonder of science, to challenge you to excel, to give you a sense of empowerment about science, and to encourage you to continue study in science—and hopefully chemistry. We intend to focus especially on what are the core ideas of chemistry.


In this semester we cover Mahaffy et al., chapters 1 through 8 and chapter 10. Detailed lecture summaries will be provide here.


The detailed laboratory schedule is here.

The laboratory part of the course will let you see first-hand chemical principles and processes in action. It will also give you experience with some of the methods scientists use to do chemical research. Your laboratory will consist of the following.

  1. Measurement of atoms and molecules in solids, liquids and gases. You will find in experiments the size of atoms and molecules and the empty space between them in solids, liquids and gases.
  2. Chemical composition of inorganic salts. By investigating the behavior of different hydrates you will explore the law of fixed chemical composition. You will see that chemical changes can be reversed and learn how to distinguish chemical substances from physical mixtures. You will also develop the laboratory analysis technique, which allows you to determine in the experiment the molecular formula of the investigated substance and the yield of chemical reactions.
  3. Preparation of solutions. This lab experiment will give you an important experience in solutions' preparation using different laboratory techniques: dissolution, dilution and mixing. You will also learn how to use spectroscopic measurements for the concentration control in solutions.
  4. Qualitative analysis (2 period lab). In the Qualitative Analysis experiment you will investigate various types of chemical reactions (precipitation, acid-base interaction and complexation) and consider their powerful experimental application for chemical separation and analysis of different ions in a mixture.
  5. Chemical thermodynamics: calorimetry (2 period lab). An experimental method called "calorimetry" will be used to study heat effects that accompany physical changes and chemical reactions.
  6. Lecture workshop on spectroscopy. The goal of this workshop is to use spectroscopic measurements to experimentally determine the relationship between the color, frequency and the wavelength of light. In a series of additional experiments with LEDs the relationship between the energy of a quantum of light and its frequency will be revealed and the value of Planck's constant experimentally determined.
  7. Lewis structures and Molecular shapes. Using general concept of Lewis structures and VSEPR method, 3-D shapes of real molecules and their dipole moments will be determined. The lab time will be used to help you in mastering your skills at deducing Lewis structures and became acquainted with various molecular geometries.


Your scores for each part of the course will always be available in your Blackboard Grade Book.

We do not assign letter grades to exams, labs, or quizzes. We only assign a course grade. This course grade will be determined based on your overall course score. This score is determined as follows:

Contributions to overall course score
  CH101 CH103
Lecture exams 22.50% 37.50%
Final exam 15% 18.75%
Laboratory 20%  
Lecture quizzes 10% 12.50%
Discussion quizzes 15% 18.75%
ALEKS mastery 10% 12.50%

For CH101 students, the lab score counts for 20% of your course grade. The various components of the lab will be graded as follows: The lab experiments (30 points for each lab period), lab quizzes (10 points each), pre-lab lecture quizzes (5 points each), and the lab exam (60 points). Lab quizzes are given at the beginning of each lab to check your familiarity with the basic features of the lab to be done.

CH103 (lecture-only) students will be graded based on their relative score for the lecture-only part of the course: Lecture exams count as 30/80 * 100% = 37.50%, the final exam as 15/80 * 100% = 18.75%, lecture quizzes as 10/80 * 100% = 12.50%, discussion quizzes as 15/80 * 100% = 18.75%, and ALEKS as 10/80 * 100% = 12.50%.

Lecture quizzes: Your score is the percent of lectures given so far in which you have gotten the correct answer. For example, if in lecture 1 there were three quiz questions, and you got two of them correct, your score for that lecture would be 66.6%. Then, if in lecture 2 you got all quiz questions correct, your score for that lecture would be 100%. Finally, your score taking into account both lectures would be (66.6% + 100.%)/2 = 83.3%. The lowest scoring lectures are dropped (two for section A3 and three for sections A1, A2, and A4).

No makeup quizzes will be given. A missed discussion quiz counts as 0; the lowest discussion quiz score will be dropped. A missed lab counts as 0; the lowest score for the one-period lab experiments will be dropped. If you miss the two lab period experiment, it can be made up at the make up lab week at the end of the semester. If, due to unusual circumstances, such as prolonged illness, you miss more than one lab, please contact Dr. Golger (golger@bu.edu) as soon as possible so that special arrangements can be made to catch up with your work.

Overall course score: After each exam we will provide the distribution of overall course scores so far, on a 1000-point scale, and your individual score so far. These overall scores will take into account the scores on the work completed so far (lecture quizzes, discussion quizzes, labs, and exams). In this way, you will have a measure of how you are doing at that point in the course.

Course grade: The course grade is based on your overall course score. There are no fixed percentages of A grades, B grades, etc. Rather, we assign course letter grades based on our assessment of how someone should have performed to receive an A, B, etc. Based on past experience, it is likely that the average grade in the course will be in the C+ range.

Questions about grading

Any question concerning the grading of a lecture exam, quiz, or laboratory report must be brought to the attention of your discussion or laboratory teaching fellow during the class session in which it is returned to you; material will not be accepted for regrading afterwards.

Indicate on the face of the exam, quiz or laboratory report the questions you wish re-graded and your reasons for believing that they were mis-graded. The entire work will be re-graded. Be sure you have made no alterations in your work. We occasionally photocopy your graded work as a check. Please note that the penalties for academic misconduct are severe, as detailed in Boston University's Academic Conduct Code,


Suggestions for success

Learning chemistry requires persistence, diligence and hard work. We suggest that you plan to spend about 15 hours per week on this course over and above the scheduled class contact hours. If you are willing to devote this time, and you spend it wisely and effectively, you will be able to perform your best. In an effort to provide some more specific guidance, we offer detailed suggestions here

The teaching staff will hold office hours throughout each week. These and many others resources are detailed here

If you have concerns

If you are experiencing difficulty, please come to see your lecture professor or Professor Golger without delay. Often, students in this course perceive that they are doing poorer work than they actually are. Particularly for first-year students, we recognize that it may be difficult for you to judge your academic standing in the course, since we do not use the same type of grading scheme with which you may be familiar from high school. That is why it is important for you to speak to us before making any major decision, such as dropping the course.

If dropping the course appears to be in your best interest, we still would like to work through the decision with you. We are also happy to advise you on appropriate choices for your academic program. If you drop the course by Tuesday, October 9, no record of it will appear on your transcript. After that date, until the end of the day Friday, November 9, you may drop the course but with a W grade (withdrawn). If you must drop the course, note that CH101 will be given during the Summer and Fall sessions of 2019.