This Course at MIT

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Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 5.111 Principles of Chemical Science as it was taught by Professor Catherine Drennan, with assistance from Course Coordinator, Allena Mistral Goren, in Fall 2014.

This course provides an introduction to the chemistry of biological, inorganic, and organic molecules. The emphasis is on basic principles of atomic and molecular electronic structure, thermodynamics, acid-base and redox equilibria, chemical kinetics, and catalysis.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Gain a working knowledge of chemical principles that will allow one to take advanced chemistry classes
  • Appreciate how chemistry is used to solve real-world problems
  • Make informed decisions about one's health, environmental and energy issues, and science policy
  • Advance science and engineering through the application of chemical principles
  • Employ chemistry in one's research in a non-chemistry department laboratory
 

Instructor Insights

Professor Catherine Drennan is talking with the interviewer.

In the following videos, Professor Catherine Drennan describes various aspects of how she teaches 5.111 Principles of Chemical Science.

 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

This course has no formal prerequisites. At MIT, 5.111 is usually taken during the freshman (first) year and instructors assume that students have had only one year of high school chemistry.

Requirements Satisfied

GIR General Institute Requirements

Offered

Every fall and spring semester

The Classroom

  • View of lecture hall from back of the classroom. Tiered seating. Chalkboards and lectern at front of room.

    Lecture

    Lectures were held in a classroom with a seating capacity of 425 students. The room was equipped with a motorized chalkboard, wireless internet, a projection booth, and a sound system.

  • View from front of classroom. Five rows of tablet desks positioned in the center of classroom. Wall of windows to the left of desks.

    Recitation

    Recitations were held in smaller classrooms equipped with chalkboards and moveable desks.

 

Assessment

The students' grades were based on the following activities:

The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by four one-hour exams. 54% Four one-hour exams
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by one three-hour final exam. 27% One three-hour final exam
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by Problem sets. 14% Problem sets
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by participation via clickers & pre-lecture questions. 5% Participation via clickers & pre-lecture questions

Student Information

325 students took this course when it was offered in Fall 2014.

Breakdown by Year

Mostly freshman

Breakdown by Major

Most students have not yet finalized their majors.

Typical Student Background

Not all students who enroll in 5.111 Principles of Chemical Science come to the course already enthusiastic about chemistry. The course offers them an opportunity to see how chemistry is a modern subject shaping many fields and how it can offer tools useful for solving real-world problems. Learn more about how Professor Drennan conceptualizes 5.111 as a course in which students can develop a passion for chemistry.

 

 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

3 hours per week
  • Met 3 times per week for 1 hour per session; 39 sessions total; mandatory attendance.
  • Class sessions included lectures, demonstrations, and clicker questions.
  • During lectures, students completed blanks in detailed handouts provided by the instructor.
 

Recitation

2 hours per week
  • Met 2 times per week for 1 hour per session; 26 sessions total; mandatory attendance.
  • Recitations included problem solving, review of concepts, and opportunities to ask questions about course material.
 

Out of Class

7 hours per week

Students completed problem sets and prepared for exams outside of class. They also participated in pizza forums, which were opportunities to get to know the professor in small group settings.

 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled
2 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled and problem set due
3 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled and problem set due No classes throughout MIT.
4 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture and exam scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled
5 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled and problem set due
6 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled and problem set due
7 No classes throughout MIT. Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled
8 Lecture and exam scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled and problem set due
9 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled and problem set due
10 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled and problem set due
11 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture and exam scheduled
12 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled and problem set due
13 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
14 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled and problem set due Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture and exam scheduled
15 Lecture scheduled Recitation scheduled Lecture scheduled No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when recitations are held. Recitation
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when exams are scheduled. Exam
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when lecture sessions are held. Lecture
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when problem sets are due. Problem set due date