Chemistry 101

IAI Code CHM911

Fast Links: lecture notes assignments misc. information  


Dr. Patrick Mills



E 1023, Main Campus


Office Phone:

(815) 280 6702


Cell phone: (Emergencies only):

(815) 302 2832




Web: - there is also a course canvas site

Office Hours:

Fall: MWF, 9:40 am - 11:40 am. TR, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Summer: 15 min. before and up to 30+ min. after class.
Please also feel free to stop by E1023 outside of my regular teaching hours


Tro, Chemistry: A Molecular Approach,  3rd or later Edition, Chemistry 101 lab downloads (Canvas). ACS Study Guide HIGHLY recommended (see below)

Other required materials:

Downloadable class notes, ‘Wrap around’ safety goggles, scientific calculator* (must have 'EE' or 'EXP' button),  Lab notebook

Prerequisite English: Satisfactory placement test score or "C" or better in ENG 021 & 099, or ENG095/096 and
Prerequisite Math: Satisfactory placement test score or "C" or better in MATH 098 and
Prerequisite Chem: 1 year of high school chemistry or CHEM 100

See Dr. Mills immediately if you do not meet any of these requirements.

Instructor Initiated Drop(s): Any student(s) who, without the prior consent of the instructor, misses the first class meeting will be dropped from the course in order to make way for student(s) on the class waiting list. It is the student's responsibility to drop themselves from the course, after the second week, should they anticipate a failing course grade as a result of poor academic performance.

Adds: Students will not be permitted to add to the course after the first week of classes (first two days summer session) have been completed.

Course background and content

Chemistry 101 is an introduction to chemical theories and results that we, in turn, take for granted within the context of our everyday lives. During the course, students will develop a greater understanding of chemical principles that underpin the structure and reactivity of matter (material), with which we interact on a daily basis. For example, have you ever wondered why ‘dry ice’ is so named, why salt is spread on our roads in winter, or even how sugar dissolves in coffee? These and other ‘everyday’ phenomena will be discussed and explored during the course. Perhaps most importantly, students will learn, develop and utilize problem solving skills pertinent not only to the allied health and engineering fields, but to life in general. Thus, relevant material from the following chapters of Chemistry: A Molecular Approach will be discussed during lectures:

Chapter 1:   Matter Measurement and Problem Solving

Chapter 2:   Atoms and Elements

Chapter 3:   Molecules, Compounds and Chemical Equations

Chapter 4:   Chemical Quantities and Aqueous Reactions

Chapter 5:   Gases

Chapter 6:   Thermochemistry

Chapter 7:   The Quantum-Mechanical Model of the Atom

Chapter 8:   Periodic Properties of the Elements

Chapter 9:  Chemical Bonding I: Lewis Theory

Chapter 10: Chemical Bonding II: Molecular Shapes, VSEPR Theory and MO Theory

Chapter 11: Liquids, solids and Intermolecular Forces

Background and/or supplementary reading, as well as independent study (homework), assignments will be set at the start of each week or on a per lecture basis. Independent study assignments will not be collected for grading. However, assigned problems will usually be those for which solutions are provided (Appendix III Chemistry: A Molecular Approach). Copies of the solution manual are available in the library reserve room, or a copy may be viewed in my office (E1023). See the final section of this document for some additional important details regarding HWK assignments.

Laboratory Assignments

The laboratory sequence has also been designed so that students encounter a variety of chemically significant processes and so, in turn, develop an understanding of the fundamental chemical principles that describe them. Thus, the lab assignments of chemistry 101 often provide illustrative examples of the principles covered in class. The CHM 101 lab schedule maybe accessed through this website via the assignments link. All experimental procedures, and well as their respective post-lab assignments, may be found within the Chemistry 101 LMS site*.

During Fall, lab sessions will take place either in room E2010, E2015 or E2016 during the stated lab period (T or R, 7:45 am - 10:45 am), unless otherwise specified.

Labs are time consuming, so each experiment must be read and (if applicable) it’s respective pre-lab assignment completed before coming to lab. Students arriving more than 10 minutes late to lab, or arriving at lab without an experimental procedure or lab book, will not be permitted to participate in the respective lab session. *EACH STUDENT MUST HAND IN A COMPLETED LAB REPORT EACH WEEK WITH THEIR'S AND THEIR PARTNER(S) NAMES ATTACHED unless otherwise specified by the instructor*

Experimental write-ups must typically be handed to the instructor at the end of each week’s lab session. Late work will be penalized by the instructor at rate of 10 % per day. A written description of what is required to successfully complete each lab write up will be distributed during the first lab session.  Each laboratory assignment is graded out of a minimum of 100 points (except check-in and check-out, which are worth 50 points each), with each student’s cumulative lab total being subsequently normalized to a possible final maximum score of 150 points. A minimum final lab score of 75/150 is required to pass the course. These values will be used, in conjunction with quiz and exam scores, to calculate final course grades (see below). Students will complete laboratory assignments in groups possessing either two or (occasionally) four members.


Students must wear approved safety goggles, be appropriately dressed, and adhere with all safety regulations at all times when in the laboratory. Safety rules and regulations will be reviewed during the first lab session.

Any student who is pregnant or may become pregnant during the course of the semester is strongly advised to consult their doctor before enrolling in this course.

Students must make up any and each missed lab assignment within one week of their absence(s) from the laboratory. Lab make ups may NOT be completed during the last week of class or Finals week. Students that do not make up missed laboratory assignment(s) will receive a score of zero for that assignment(s). Any student who misses more than 3 laboratory periods (and does not make them up) will have a full letter grade deducted from their final course grade. If you miss a lab be sure to see Dr. Mills as soon as possible for details on times and dates for making up the missed work. On time lab check-in (first week) and check-outs (last week) count towards lab attendance and points totals. No make up labs are available during summer classes.

Exams and grading:

The final course grade is based on a preliminary quiz (15 points), 3 midterm quizzes (25 points each), 2 midterm exams (150 points each) and a comprehensive standardized final exam (200 points). A maximum of 150 points will also be awarded for laboratory work.  A maximum score, before extra credit, of 740 points may be earned during the course. The final course grades will be based on a normal or "curved" statistical distribution of the cumulative scores for all graded work (i.e. out of 740), with the mean grade being C+. A tentative distribution scale is: Top 22 % of scores (A range), next 28 % (B range), next 35 % (C range), next 10 % (D range) and the remaining 5 % (F). The C/D cut-off is set at 55% (407 points) of the total grade. Students attaining scores in the D/F range are typically encouraged (but not forced) to withdraw from the course prior to the drop date.

A great way to ensure a good grade on your 101 and/or 102 final is to practice ACS style questions. To help you with this, a pair of ACS study guides have been put on reserve in the library. Additionally ACS style review questions will be covered in the final set of course notes (worth looking at now). Additionally, if you are going to take the MCAT or  PCAT, the ACS guide is makes for an excellent resource for these tests' respective chemistry sections. If you wish to purchase a copy ($19 ea.) log on to:

Extra Credit:

Extra credit will be awarded in any of four ways:

1.      For either answering questions and/or solving problems posed during lectures (1 or more point(s) per question or problem).

2.      Students able to point out infrequent (!) errors made by the instructor during class will be awarded extra credit (1 point per correction, not including spelling errors).

3.      Attendance. Although credit for attendance does not form part of the formal grade scheme, the instructor will occasionally circulate an attendance sheet. One point of extra credit will be awarded to the student each time they sign one of these forms. Students arriving late for class will not be permitted to sign the attendance sheet. In addition, extra credit point(s) will also be deducted from a student's total for a variety of other behaviors (such as the use of cell phones and/or I-pods etc.) deemed inappropriate within formal academic environment - see below.

4.      Background reading. Occasional extra credit questions relating to the background reading or class discussions will appear on quizzes and exams.

Extra credit may be deducted for any of the following:

1.      For the use of cells phones or any other electronic devices (texting) during class time. Exception: See Dr. Mills at the start of class if you need to keep your cell phone turned on (vibrate only) for emergency communication - relative in the hospital etc.
Turn off and put away your cell phone away before coming to class. Cell phones may not be left in plain view (-1 pt.). If your cell phone rings, or you are seen texting during class, it will cost you five points of extra credit!

2.      Students who arrive more than 5 minutes late to classL (without a reasonable excuse). The class starts promptly at the appointed time - I expect you to be there (-1 point).

3.   TalkingT with classmates or engaging in other distracting behavior (such as 'walking out'W, sleepingS, playing portable video games etc.)* while the class is in session (-1 point).

Research Opportunities

If you are interested in pursuing an in class honors or a summer research project (NSCI 296) please let me know as soon as possible (within the first week of class is best). I have supervised several projects over previous semesters. The projects in question mostly involve simple (and fun) laboratory work, so enthusiasm and a commitment to the project are in some ways more important than a strong background in the sciences. Please let me know if you are interested.

How it all works:

I generally favor what is often referred to as an ‘active’ teaching style. Thus, I generally prefer a more dynamic approach in which we as a class actively negotiate challenging theory and solve relevant problems through both formal lectures and group led workshops. This approach necessitates some degree of class participation. Therefore, it should be our intent to establish a work environment, within the lecture, lab, or office hour, in which you the student can feel at ease participating in class. I fully encourage the asking questions, however simple or complex. If at any time you have a question please ask! If you feel uncomfortable speaking in class, or find that you have a question that requires a more detailed answer, please feel free to come to an office hour or contact me via e-mail. I also operate what may be described as an “open door” policy, meaning that (depending on my schedule) I am willing to discuss work outside of my regular class office hour times.

I have supplied (at this web site) a set of interactive class notes for CHM 101. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you download / print these notes and bring them to class with you. DO NOT PRINT CLASS NOTES FROM THE MATH OR OTHER ACADEMICCOMPUTER LABS - use the library, Cyber Café or any other on-campus location.

Clearly, it is imperative that the students and the instructor be able to communicate without interference or distraction within the academic environment. Thus, I really have only one rigorously applied rule with regard to classroom behavior - students who disrupt lectures by distracting the instructor and/or other students by persistently talking with their class mates or utilizing their cell phone or other electronic devices (text too) will, if necessary, be asked to vacate the classroom.

I am sometimes asked (within the context of assigned reading and independent study), "what incentive do I have for completing work that isn't graded?" My answer would be that this work is graded - just not directly. Assigned reading gives a more complete picture of the subject matter, which in turn allows for its better understanding the more "challenging" questions and extra credit problems that may appear on examinations. In addition to material taken from the lecture notes, questions based on homework and / or lab problems will appear on the exams. Thus, a familiarity with this material is clearly essential for the student to receive a high final (letter) grade. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT – YOU WILL SEE QUESTIONS SIMILAR TO THOSE ASSIGNED AS HOMEWORK ON YOUR EXAMS. FAILURE TO COMPLETE THE ASSIGNED PROBLEMS WILL GREATLY AFFECT YOUR FINAL GRADE!! Please don’t fall into the trap of either falling behind with or simply not completing homework assignments. This point also, in my view, epitomizes a common problem incoming college freshmen occasionally encounter – misunderstanding or not recognizing the philosophical differences between high school and advanced level instruction. Essentially all college level instructors make the simple assumption that the students in their classes want to, rather than have to, learn. After all, college is not mandatory and is often undertaken at great financial expense to the student. Thus, in addition to possessing the necessary academic abilities, students are also assumed to possess a level of maturity that allows them to work diligently, both inside and outside the classroom, towards their personal academic goals. As with most college level instruction, this general philosophy manifests itself within the structure of the courses undertaken by the student. In the case of CHM 101, the lectures are merely a vehicle through which material is initially conveyed to, and understood by, the student. The students' comprehension and ability to utilize this material is then tested through the completion of independent study assignments and, ultimately, through the taking of examinations. To use an analogy, the lecture component of most courses (including CHM 101) may be considered to be the "tip of the iceberg", while work performed outside of this arena may be assumed to constitute the bulk of the learning experience. In my experience, students who have done poorly in my courses have almost always underestimated the importance of completing assignments outside of the classroom. More often than not, capable students convince themselves, based on the fact that they understand the lecture material at the time it is presented, there is no need to complete the independent study assignments. This assumption is flawed, as, to use another analogy, the material presented in class provides the tools by which problems may be solved. Learning how to use these tools, via the completion if the relevant smaller tasks (independent study), is the best way to prepare for the undertaking of a major project (exams). Please do not allow yourselves to fall into this trap. See Dr. Mills for additional information on study habits.

Missed work:

Students are expected (and urged) to attend all class meeting and take all quizzes and exams at their assigned times and dates. However, if a student misses an exam or quiz, and has a plausible excuse or can provide prove of extenuating circumstances, they have two subsequent options with regard to making up the missed assignment:

1.      If the work missed has not been graded and returned to the class, the student may take the pertinent exam of quiz ‘late’. Students must contact Dr. Mills (via e-mail) within 3 hours of the missed assignment in order to arrange for this work to be made up in the Academic Skills Center (A1138). Missed work must be made up BEFORE the next class meeting and will* be penalized by the instructor at rate of 10 %day-1

2.      If the student is forced to miss class for an extended period of time, perhaps due to a serious medical, family or other emergency, an averaged grade for the student’s similar, subsequent assignments (a ‘next average’) will be entered for the missing quiz or exam grade. Documented evidence describing the reason for the extended absence must be supplied in such cases.

Note: A maximum of one quiz and/or one mid-term examination may be made up through the methods described immediately above.

Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty (cheating) of any kind is not tolerated. Students found to be cheating will be either awarded a zero for the pertinent assignment (labs) or awarded an 'F' grade for the course (quizzes or exams).


Students are urged to arrive at the lecture room or laboratory a few minutes before class is scheduled to begin, as important review problems (typically ‘exam type’ questions) or pre-lab assignments are set, solved and/or discussed during this time. Students arriving late will not benefit from completing such tasks, so may be at some disadvantage with regard to completing the respective session’s coursework. Students arriving after ~10 minutes in to the session will not be permitted to partake in the respective laboratory session.



And finally….

Please remember that it is my goal to help you pass the course, not to fail it. The simplest advice I can give is this – to learn chemistry you must do chemistry. Thus, attending class regularly and keeping up with the homework assignments is the surest way to ensure a passing grade. Do NOT fall in to the trap of believing that chemistry can be learnt just from reading/memorizing the textbook. I cannot emphasize enough that chemistry is all about developing and practicing problem solving skills, so please adapt or modify your study regime accordingly. If you would like to learn more about study skills pertinent to the study of chemistry please stop by my office anytime or talk with me after class. Additionally, if at any time you find yourself falling behind with regard to any aspect of the course, please feel free to either make an appointment to see me or just stop by my office when I’m not teaching.


PM 8/13/19