Part 1: Elementary Chemistry

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Section 1: Some Observations and Experiments. Simple Classification


(1) Handle simple laboratory apparatus.

(2) Select and use the laboratory apparatus for simple investigation.

(3) Recall simple laboratory apparatus.

(4) Make accurate observations and draw simple conclusions during experimental work.

(5) State the criterion for a pure substance.

(6) Explain the three states of matter in terms of the simple kinetic theory of particles.

(7) Recall the effect of heat on a range of substances.

(8) Recognize non-permanent and permanent change, energy changes, and the formation of new substances in chemical reactions.

(9) Define an element and compound in terms of atoms and "bonded atoms" respectively.

  • Many of the objectives specified for Section 1 will be common for other sections of the Elementary Chemistry Course. Teachers should bear this in mind when teaching other sections' objectives in Elementary Chemistry.


(1.1) Mixtures and pure substances: separation of mixtures. Miscible and immiscible liquids, distillation, crystallization, paper chromatography. Methods of gas collection, drying of solids, liquids and gases. Simple criteria of purity, melting-point and boiling-point.

(1.2) Heating substances: States of matter, melting and boiling, simple kinetic (particle) theory; atoms and molecules; definitions of element and compound; permanent and non-permanent changes. Test for water of crystallization.

  • A qualitative appreciation of bond formation/breakage and heat is needed.

Section 2: The Atmosphere and Combustion


At the end of this topic students should be able to:

(1) State the composition of air.

(2) Recall the preparation, properties and uses of oxygen.

(3) Recall the combustion of specified elements in air and oxygen.

(4) Name the conditions for rusting, its prevention and apply the principles to new situations.


(2.1) Composition of air: Approximate volumetric ratio of nitrogen/oxygen, quantitative determination using copper. Burning in air (C, S, P, Na, Cu), oxygen as "active part", mass changes involved. Burning of a candle. Rusting (rusting as a product of iron, oxygen and water).

(2.2) Oxygen: Laboratory preparation (prepared by hydrogen peroxide with manganese (IV) oxide or sodium peroxide with water); combustion of elements in oxygen: uses. Competition for oxygen: Reactivity Series K, Na, Ca, Mg, Al, C, Zn illustrate with CO2/Mg, PbO/Mg. Experiments carried out on a "bottle top". Take care.

Section 3: Acids and Bases


At the end of this topic students should be able to:

(1) State the colors and corresponding pH's of universal indicator.

(2) Recall the acidic/neutral/basic (alkaline) properties of some compounds.

(3) State the reactions of dilute acids with metals and metal oxides, hydroxides, carbonates and sulphites.


Flower extracts as simple indicators. Universal indicator, pH scale. Acidic, neutral and basic/alkaline solutions. Simple properties of mineral acids.

Section 4: Water and Hydrogen


At the end of this topic students should be able to:

(1) Explain the experiments showing that water contains hydrogen.

(2) State the products of the reaction of water and steam with different metals.

(3) List the reactivity series obtained from metal/water reactions.

(4) Recall the preparation and test for hydrogen.

(5) Define oxidation and reduction as gain/removal of oxygen.

(6) Explain metal oxide/hydrogen reaction in terms of this definition.


(4.1) Burning of organic matter (energy source). Water as oxide of hydrogen. Reactions of metals with water/steam. Burning hydrogen in air.

(4.2) Metals and dilute acids: Preparation and test for hydrogen, oxidation and reduction (oxygen gain/removal only). Metal oxide.

Section 5: The Effect of Electricity on Substances


At the end of this topic students should be able to:

(1) Define conductor/non-conductor, electrolyte/non-electrolyte.

(2) Recognize solutions and melts as electrolytes/non-electrolytes.

(3) State the relationship between electrolytes/non-electrolytes and the particles they contain.

(4) Name the products of electrolysis of simple binary electrolytes.

(5) Recognize that electrolysis is a means of obtaining elements from chemical compounds.


Conductors and non-conductors; electrolytes and non-electrolytes; cathode and anode. Ions as the particles in electrolytes solutions. Electrolysis, conduction. Test solids for conductivity.

Melts: PbBr2. Electrolytes contain ions, non-electrolytes contain molecules. Avoid solutions where water could interfere: uses CuCl2, HCl, PbBr2.

Section 6: Ionic Compounds


At the end of this topic students should be able to:

(1) Recall which compounds are soluble and insoluble.

(2) Select the appropriate method for preparation of a particular salt.

(3) Recall the action of heat on several salts.

(4) Explain the terms "saturated solution" and "crystallization".


(6.1) Preparation of soluble salts, acid with metals, metal hydroxide, metal oxides, metal carbonates, soluble salts by precipitation.

(6.2) Solubility of well-known salts, sulphates, chlorides, nitrates, carbonates, hydroxides and oxides. Relationship between method of preparation and solubility. Action of heat on carbonates, nitrates, sulphates and hydrates.

Section 7: Structure of the Atom and the Periodic Table


At the end of the topic students should be able to:

(1) Recall the structure of the atom and recognize the electron.

(2) Know the arrangements of electrons in the atoms of the first twenty elements.

(3) Explain the structure of the atom from a simple energy model.

(4) Define atomic number, relative atomic number, relative atomic mass and isotope.

(5) Explain the Periodic Table from the electronic arrangement of an element.

(6) Predict ion formed from the electronic arrangement of an element.


(7.1) Simple model of the atom, balance of the charges of protons and electrons; neutrons. Positive and negative charges should be introduced through simple electrostatics experiments with charged rods and spheres. Definitions of atomic number, relative atomic mass, significance of isotopes.

(7.2) Ion formation; qualitative treatment of the energetics of electron loss from the atom (use of "shells" discouraged); derivation of the electron arrangements form Li+, Na+. Build-up of the Periodic Table for the first twenty elements on this basis.

Section 8: Chemical Families: Patterns in Properties


At the end of this topic students should be able to:

(1) Recall the specified reactions of the alkali and alkaline-earth metals, the halogens.

(2) Recognize qualitatively the difference in "reactivity" within these chemical families.

(3) State that the noble gases family is comparatively unreactive.

(4) Predict the reactions and "reactivity" of the elements within each family on qualitative basis.

(5) Explain the reactions of the chemical families in terms of their similar electronic arrangements.


(8.1) Alkali metals (Li, Na, K only). Reaction with air, water and chlorine. Similarity of chemical formulae of their compounds ions, oxides, chloride.

(8.2) Alkaline earth-metals (Ca, Mg). Reaction with air, water, chlorine and dilute acids. Similarity of ions and formulae of their compounds.

(8.3) Halogens (chlorine, bromine and iodine). Reaction with sodium, water (+bleaching action), zinc powder, sodium hydroxide solution. Similarity of ions and compounds.

(8.4) Noble gases. Recognition of their low reactivity; appreciation in terms of the stable electron arrangements.

  • It is not intended that full formulae equations be introduced in the Elementary Section. Word equations should be given whenever possible. Where they arise naturally the formulae of some simple compounds and elements may be given.