Chemistry is the study of atoms and how they interact with each other. There are many subsets of the topic depending upon the atoms, how they interact, or how they are being analyzed. But they all fall under this general definition, including introductory chemistry.
In introductory chemistry, a vast number of topics are covered in order to create a foundation for later chemistry courses. The material learned at this level may not be expanded upon right away, but it will show up at some point as the subjects become more complex. For introductory chemistry, the key topics that you’ll need to know are:
- Periodic table trends and information
- Lewis structure drawings
- Bond types and intermolecular forces
- Types of reactions and Le Chatelier’s Principle
- Gas laws
The periodic table is one of the greatest tools that a chemist has available to them. From this table you can pull the weight (in grams) per mole (6.02 x 10^23) of atoms or molecules, the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons, the number of electrons in the outer most shell, electron configuration, and much more. Because of how much information you can derive from the periodic table, it is highly recommended to have access to one when calculating problems.
To learn how to read the table, here are some tips:
- First column contains the alkali metals
- Second column represents the Alkaline earth metals
- Columns 3 through 12 are the transition metals
- Column 17 is the halides
- Column 18 is the noble gases
Lewis structures are drawings that describe the basic concept of a molecule’s valence electrons (electrons in the outer shell) in regards to bonding. For a molecule, there can be multiple Lewis structures that are considered to be correct because of how electrons can be shared across the molecule. If there are several potential structures, there are rules to determine which structures are more likely to exist because of their stability. As a general rule, each atom on a Lewis structure has eight combined shared and personal electrons. There are common exceptions to this rule that will be explained later.