December 14, 2009

Info about the final exam

So, you know we are taking the one-semester ACS standardized exam. It is 70 questions long, but we are only doing 57 questions. According to our syllabus, our final is worth 100 points. So, each question on the ACS final is going to be worth 1.3 points, leaving 25 points for the "NEC portion" of the final, which is about the length of a quiz. Stand forewarned that you do not get a correlation chart, reagents cheat sheet, yada yada yada. Because of the multiple choice nature of the test, you really don't need them. You'll have plenty of scratch paper and your trusty periodic table : ) nec

November 30, 2009

End of semester ramblings on 30 Nov

First, the numbers: we have 365 points as of right now, through Exam 3. That means we have 135 left to go. One hundred comes in the form of the final exam (more on that later, in a different entry). Twenty-five is in the spec homework (aka mystery points). So there are ten real mystery points left (i.e. it is even a mystery to me as to where they will go; I may just drop them and the total points in the class will equal 490).

There seems to be pretty good consensus about getting through Ch. 8 fairly quickly so there will be more time for review next week. It is a foregone conclusion that we will NOT be covering the rest of Ch. 11.

Probably won't do problems on board; probably will do some in-class worksheets. More later. Hang in there! nec

November 24, 2009

A little bit about exam 3

Exam 3 covers anything and everything we've covered since exam 2. That's basically Ch. 7 and 12, I believe, + dehydration of alcohols + free-radical halogenation of alkanes in ch. 11. As I've mentioned, the only bit of mass spec you'll need to know is the molecular ion. There will be a homework set awaiting you upon your return from break that will have much mass spec on it. Plus we have ONE MORE quiz, then I can drop the lowest one. We're nearly there!!

November 1, 2009

Sunday somnolence

I'm really not somnolent (and I'm really not sure I'm spelling that right) - especially after a wonderful extra hour of sleep. If I ever run for office my two platforms will be 1) every week a 3 day weekend and 2) every Saturday an extra hour of sleep!

Anyhow, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel! You guys are deep into o-chem now and I have to say, Exam 2 looked pretty good. Sure, there were some rough spots, but all said I think the vast majority of you are in good position for the rest of the semester. I will be uploading a new schedule soon -- it doesn't change any dates, it just provides more info.

We really don't learn many more reactions this semester (there's a nice big chunk of spectroscopy -- IR -- that is a barrel of fun), but having said that you still want to think mechanism, mechanism, mechanism. When you get exam 2 back, if you lost mucho points you need to focus more on electron movement.

October 23, 2009

Mid-semester musings

Are we having fun yet? Whew! We need another fall break...and we'll get one in about a month. : ) We'll hang in there til then. Here's some feedback on your feedback/suggestions.

-> far and away the biggest "I need help" suggestion is using mechanism to figure out the stereochemical outcome of reactions. We'll work on that both Sunday and Monday.

-> Conformations, esp. chair conformations and ring flips: we'll do some practice problems with these on Sunday.

-> I got an even split on the subject of take-home quizzes -- some people like 'em, some don't. If the take-home is getting you further behind, that is a big, big problem, because you should be doing take-home-like problems every weekend anyway. The MOST important thing you can do to understand and succeed in o-chem is to work problems - more important than reading the text, more important than coming to class and taking notes! Problem is, it is a lot easier to come to class and read the text than it is to actually DO the problems. But without this third step -- doing the problems -- it doesn't matter how much you come to class or read the text. SO...if giving take-home quizzes is making you actually process the material and do the problems, then that is very much a good thing...

-> I'm getting reminded to do more problems on the board. Keep reminding me. I like them too. Maybe we can do some monday.

-> This wasn't on the feedback, but don't sweat synthesis just yet. We start synthesis with little baby steps ("one step backwards" and roadmaps like on the takehome). You won't have any hairy/scary synthesis problem on the exam!

-> how to do stereochem w/o a model set??? The best advice I can give is to practice a LOT with your model set when you're doing the homework problems. It will eventually "take" and you'll actually begin to make the translation from 2D (on paper) to 3D in your head!

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions. We'll work together on hanging in there. We're in pretty good shape, so just stay caught up and we'll make it through. nec

October 14, 2009

Friday's quiz (Oct. 16)

Yeah, so I hear through the grapevine that there's a Cell test on Friday. I ain't dumb. I know that studying for the Cell's test and the stereochem quiz ....well, it isn't going to happen. Or at least not well. So, the "quiz" on Friday is likely to once again be a take-home quiz. I hate to give you a take home assignment over fall break, but I think that an in-class quiz on Friday is a probable disaster, so...there it is. nec

October 13, 2009

life in three dimensions

Stereochemistry is HARD. I remember being totally blown away by it when I took o-chem as an undergrad. The fun part of it was I was too cheap to buy the model set, so I used (as suggested by the text I had) gumdrops and toothpicks. Well, that didn't work very well in the heat and humidity of Shreveport, LA. Funny, to this day I don't really like gumdrops. Wonder why that is...

October 11, 2009

Snowy? Sunday eve.

SO. Apparently people HAVE been checking the blog...and I have been dropping the ball! OK, OK, I'll blog!

The help session today was great - a good turnout and good questions -- once I got you guys to actually ASK questions! So thanks for coming out and for being willing to ask questions.

Geeze, stereochem is hard. Models, on the other hand, are GOOD. So let them help you out. Stereochem is definitely not something you should be able to see "naturally". It needs help/work.

Alkenes? Oh, yeah, lots of things to "remember". NO! Really - focus on "E meets Nu"! THink of it as a soap opera! Whatever it takes! It all will make sense in the end.

Hang in there! The fun is just beginning! nec

September 19, 2009

quiz 3 - comments

It seemed to me that the "team quiz" approach worked pretty well from my that it looked like most of you were really working well together as a team. Really putting heads together - great.

Unfortunately, that didn't necessarily translate into good understanding for all...Uffdah, a lot of BS flying around! : ) I'll hand the quizzes back Monday morning. LEARN FROM THEM...

September 18, 2009

Amine nomenclature?

I've looked around in a few textbooks and they all are very "short and sweet" when it comes to amine nomenclature. I have loaned out my one nomenclature text, best advice if you're still looking for assistance and advice on naming amines is to look at the amines chapter in any of the other o-chem texts we have upstairs in the chem lounge...

September 15, 2009

Blogging about quiz 3

I've wracked my brain trying to come up with a good approach to quiz 3. The main point of the quizzes is to keep you on track (caught up), but I have to say that the first two quizzes haven't gone real well. And I don't want quiz 3 to be a repeat, but I do want it to be good prep for next week's exam. SO.....

Here's the plan for quiz 3: it will be in-class, but it will be something you can do in teams of two or three. So you need to decide ahead of time who you will be taking the quiz with (if anyone). LET ME KNOW so I know how many copies of the quiz to make. We'll take the quiz at the end of the hour and you can leave when you're done (or by 9:05, whichever comes first). You'll need to scatter about the room so your team can work closely together. There will be a lot of talking, so if you are expecting "quiet time" for this quiz, it isn't going to happen. There will be a lot of "explain this" on the quiz, so I'm expecting you to talk things over with your quiz partner(s) so you can write a very concise explanation. The plan is to have the quizzes graded by Monday so you can have them back before Exam 1.

September 8, 2009

NEC's O-Chem Contemplations: September 2nd musings

OK so I'm thinking the tennis ball analogy didn't work so well - you know, the one where the tennis ball is the proton that is being tossed from base to base? The acid is the proton donor (the person that HAS the tennis ball); the base is the empty-handed person who TAKES the tennis ball. Acid = electron poor, base = electron-rich. Really really important to get these relationships down. Sleep on it.

September 3, 2009


What a GORGEOUS day. And I've been stuck in my office slaving over a hot computer making up your quizzes. So sorry for me ; )

September 2, 2009

September 2nd musings

So I'm starting up this blog again. About organic chemistry. Teaching at 8 a.m. Somehow when I sit down to blog I can't think of a thing to say but when you get me up in front of my students, I have PLENTY to say.

When I first started teaching I was pretty hard core about quizzes and exams, but I've softened up considerably. Like giving a takehome for the first quiz. Holy cow. What a pushover I've become! : ) But I think it makes sense. We'll see. The hard core will come soon enough...