Chemistry is the science of the composition, structure, properties and reactions of matter, understood in terms of atoms, atomic particles and the way they are arranged and link together. It is concerned with the synthesis, formulation, analysis and characteristic properties of substances and materials of all kinds.
Students should be helped to appreciate the achievements of chemistry in showing how the complex and diverse phenomena of both the natural and man-made worlds can be described in terms of a number of key ideas which are of universal application, and which can be illustrated in the separate topics set out below.
These ideas include:
- matter is composed of tiny particles called atoms and there are about 100 different naturally-occurring types of atoms called elements
- elements show periodic relationships in their chemical and physical properties
- these periodic properties can be explained in terms of the atomic structure of the elements
- atoms bond either by transferring electrons from one atom to another or by sharing electrons
- the shapes of molecules (groups of atoms bonded together) and the way giant structures are arranged is of great importance in terms of the way they behave
- reactions can occur when molecules collide and do so at different rates due to differences in molecular collisions
- chemical reactions take place in only three different ways:
- proton transfer
- electron transfer
- electron sharing
- energy is conserved in chemical reactions so can therefore be neither created nor destroyed.
Students should be taught about:
Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table
- a simple model of the atom consisting of the nucleus and electrons, relative atomic mass, electronic charge and isotopes
- the number of particles in a given mass of a substance
- the modern Periodic Table, showing elements arranged in order of atomic number
- position of elements in the Periodic Table in relation to their atomic structure and arrangement of outer electrons
- properties and trends in properties of elements in the same group
- characteristic properties of metals and non-metals
- chemical reactivity of elements in relation to their position in the Periodic Table.
Structure, bonding and the properties of matter
- changes of state of matter in terms of particle kinetics, energy transfers, and the relative strength of chemical bonds and intermolecular forces
- types of chemical bonding: ionic, covalent, and metallic
- bulk properties of materials related to bonding and intermolecular forces
- bonding of carbon leading to the vast array of natural and synthetic organic compounds that occur due to the ability of carbon to form families of similar compounds, chains and rings
- structures, bonding and properties of diamond, graphite, fullerenes and graphene.
- determination of empirical formulae from the ratio of atoms of different kinds
- balanced chemical equations, ionic equations and state symbols
- identification of common gases
- the chemistry of acids; reactions with some metals and carbonates
- pH as a measure of hydrogen ion concentration and its numerical scale
- electrolysis of molten ionic liquids and aqueous ionic solutions
- reduction and oxidation in terms of loss or gain of oxygen.
Energy changes in chemistry
- Measurement of energy changes in chemical reactions (qualitative)
- Bond breaking, bond making, activation energy and reaction profiles (qualitative).
Rate and extent of chemical change
- factors that influence the rate of reaction: varying temperature or concentration, changing the surface area of a solid reactant or by adding a catalyst
- factors affecting reversible reactions.
- distinguishing between pure and impure substances
- separation techniques for mixtures of substances: filtration, crystallisation, chromatography, simple and fractional distillation
- quantitative interpretation of balanced equations
- concentrations of solutions in relation to mass of solute and volume of solvent.
Chemical and allied industries
- life cycle assessment and recycling to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life
- the viability of recycling certain materials
- carbon compounds, both as fuels and feedstock and the competing demands for limited resources
- fractional distillation of crude oil and cracking to make more useful materials
- extraction and purification of metals related to the position of carbon in a reactivity series.
Earth and atmospheric science
- evidence for composition and evolution of the Earth’s atmosphere since its formation
- evidence, and uncertainties in evidence, for additional anthropogenic causes of climate change
- potential effects of, and mitigation of, increased levels of carbon dioxide and methane on the Earth’s climate
- common atmospheric pollutants: sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulates and their sources
- the Earth’s water resources and obtaining potable water.
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