Descriptive chemistry

3 Jan 2019

Venn Diagram activity- What is inorganic Chemistry?

Submitted by Sheila Smith, University of Michigan- Dearborn
Evaluation Methods: 

I did not assess this piece, except by participation in the discussion

Evaluation Results: 

I asked my students to write an open ended essay to answer the question (asked in that first day exercise): What is Inorganic Chemistry.

Interestingly, 2 of my 15 students drew a version of this Venn Diagram to accompany their essays.


This Learning Object came to being sort of (In-)organically on the first day of my sophomore level intro to inorganic course. As I always do, I started the course with the IC Top 10 First Day Activity. (  One of the pieces of that In class activity asks students- novices at Inorganic Chemistry- to sort the articles from the Most Read Articles from Inorganic Chemistry into bins of the various subdisciplines of Inorganic Chemistry.  As the discussion unfolded, I just sort of started spontaneously drawing a Venn Diagram on the board.  

I think Venn diagrams are an excellent logic tool, one that is too little applied these days for anything other than internet memes.  This is a nice little add-on activity to the first day.

Your Venn diagram will likely look different from mine.  You're right.


Learning Goals: 

The successful student should be able to:

  • identify the various sub-disciplines of inorganic chemistry.  
  • apply the rules of logic diagrams to construct overlapping fields of an Venn diagram.


Equipment needs: 

colored chalk may be handy but not required.

Implementation Notes: 

I used this activity in conjuction with a first day activity LO (also published on VIPEr).

I shared a clean copy (this one) with the students after the class where we discussed this.


Time Required: 
10-15 minutes
12 Dec 2018

Foundations Inorganic Chemistry for New Faculty

Submitted by Chip Nataro, Lafayette College

What is a foundations inorganic course? Here is a great description


Course Level: 
17 Jul 2018

Stoichiometric Calculations: A General Chemistry Flipped Classroom Module

Submitted by Jack F Eichler, University of California, Riverside
Evaluation Methods: 

1) Performance on the pre-lecture online quiz

2) Performance on the in-class activity (clicker scores or hand-graded worksheet)

Evaluation Results: 

Students generally score on average 70% or higher on the pre-lecdure quiz, and on average 70% or more of students correctly answer the in-class clicker questions. As  noted in the worksheet answer key, question #4 generally gives students the most trouble as they may not yet have learned how to sum a series of reactions to yield an overall reaction. Instructors are encoruaged to do an example of this in the acitivty introduction. 


This is a flipped classroom activity intended for use in a first semester general chemistry course. Students are expected to have prior knowledge in determining the molar mass of compounds, how to carry out mole/gram conversions, and how to write balanced chemical reactions. The activity includes:

1) pre-lecture learning videos that guide students through carrying out basic stoichiometric calculations, determining the limiting reactant, and determining the percent yield of a reaction;

2) a pre-lecture interactive tutorial that helps students learn the concept of limiting reactant;

3) pre-lecture quiz questions; and

4) an in-class activity that requires students to apply their knowledge of stoichiometry and limiting reactant in the real-world application of converting coal to liquid fuel.

Acknowledgement: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1504989. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Learning Goals: 

Students are expected to complete the following learning objectives:

a) using mole-gram conversions and mole-mole conversions to carry out stoichiometric calculations for balanced chemical reactions;

b) gaining appreciation for how stoichiometric calculations are used in real-world chemical reactions.

Prior to completing this activity, students will be expected to have learned how to use molar masses of elements and compounds to carry out mole-gram conversions, how to balance chemical reactions, and how to use balanced chemical reactions to carry out mole-mole conversions.


Equipment needs: 

Suggested technology:

1) online test/quiz function in course management system

2) in-class response system (clickers)

Topics Covered: 
Course Level: 
Implementation Notes: 

Attached as separate file. 

Time Required: 
50-80 minutes
13 Jun 2018

The Preparation and Characterization of Nanoparticles

Submitted by Kyle Grice, DePaul University
Evaluation Methods: 

Students are evaluated on their participation in lab, lab safety, lab notebook pages, and a lab report turned in a week after the last day of the experiment. 

Evaluation Results: 

This lab was first run in spring of 2016, and again in spring of 2017 and 2018 (a different instructor carried out the lab in 2018). 

In general, students do well on the lab report and seem to enjoy the experiment.They often need guidance when interpreting the Analytical Chemistry article and selecting the correct equations. Discussing their values with them in office hours ("does that make sense?") helps them understand their calculations. 

A sample lab report that scored above 90% is included in the faculty-only files. 


This is a nanochemistry lab I developed for my Junior and Senior level Inorganic Chemistry course. I am NOT a nano/matertials person, but I know how important nanochemistry is and I wanted to make something where students could get an interesting introduction to the area. The first time I ran this lab was also the first time I made gold nanoparticles ever! 

We do not have any surface/nano instrumentation here (AFM, SEM/TEM, DLS, etc... we can access them at other universities off-campus but that takes time and scheduling), so that was a key limitation in making this lab. 

While it was made for an upper-division course, I think It could be adapted and implemented at many levels, including gen chem. I do not spend much time on nano in the lecture (none in fact), so this lab was made to have students learn a bit about nanochemistry somewhere in inorganic chemistry. We have one 10-week quarter of inorganic lecture and lab, offered every spring quarter.

This lab takes approximately 2-3 hours if students are well prepared and using their time well, but is usually spread over 2 days. Students are concurrently doing experiments for another lab or two because we have a lab schedule that overlaps multiple labs, and can do these during one day or across two days. The lab space is an organic chemistry laboratory, so we have access to the usual lab synthetic equipment

Students in thelaboratory write lab reports,which are the due the week after the last day of the lab experiment. In the lab report they use their UV-Vis data to calculate information about the AuNP. 

The lab has been posted, as well two photos from students' ferrofluids (these were posted with permission on our departmental blog). A rubric has been posted as a faculty-only file. I have also included a student submission that received over 90% on the lab with their identifying information removed. Students write and introduction and need to cite journal articles in their report, so they are expected to do reading on nanochemistry topics outside of the lab period as they write their reports. 

I am sure the lab can be improved, this was what i came up with the materials and time I had. I plan on continuing to revise and edit it as time goes on. Any suggestions are very welcome! 

Learning Goals: 

A student should be able to perform a chemical laboratory experiment safely and follow proper lab notebook protocol.

A student should be able to determine the average size of AuNPs from spectroscopic data and primary literature.

A student should determine atomic and nano-scale information from physical properties.

A student should be able to construct a lab report in the style of an ACS article (Students in my lab wrote lab reports for each experiment). 

Equipment needs: 

For this experiment, you  need

The chemical materials - HAuCl4, trisodium citrate, 

Heating/stirring plates


UV-Vis spectrometer (mainly Vis)

A laser pointer

Strong magnets (the stronger and larger the better)

Implementation Notes: 

The syntheses are relatively straightforward, although we've had some problems getting "spikes" for the ferrofluid. Anecdotally, adding the reagents and doing the steps faster tends to give better "spiking". Some students just see a blob moving around in response to the magnet, which was fine in terms of their report. 

The AuNP synthesis can also be done with an ultrasonicator or by addition of sodium borohydride, among other methods. We don't have them make a calibration curve of chloride addition, but that could be a possibility.  

I like having a pre-made solution of a red oroganic dye to shine the laser pointer through to compare versus the laser shining through the AuNP solution. 

One year, the AuNP synthesis was going very slow. We realized it was because the Au(III) was diluted in acid, so it was protonating the citrate. Boiling for a while before adding the citrate solution helped fix this problem.

KAuCl3 is also a good source of Au(III) for this lab. 

Time Required: 
2 hours


Subscribe to RSS - Descriptive chemistry