Chat times for 2012/2013
Dr. Christe Ann McMenomy
Frequently Asked Questions about the Chemistry Course
You should have completed a junior high school level course in physical science that covers the description of atomic structure (electrons, protons, neutrons), changes of state from solid to liquid to gas, heat energy, and basics of chemical reactions (reactants in, products out). We cover all of these topics in detail, and students have an easier time if they have been exposed to the basic concepts before starting my course. If you have taken the Scholars Online (formerly SOLA/RCA) Natural Science course, or the Physical Science component of the junior high school science curriculum, you should be prepared to hand the chemistry concepts.
You should have completed a first year algebra course and a geometry course or their equivalent, and be taking a second year algebra course. You should be able to factor algebraic expressions and be able to solve the quadratic equation. For example, you should be able to rearrange the equation ax2 + bx + c = 0 for x in terms of a, b, and c (or at least have the solution memorized!) You should be able to work with exponents; it is an advantage to already understand how logarithms work, but we will cover those in class anyway.
You should understand how to read a graph and a table of numerical data. Many of the exercises involve interpreting experimental data presented in table form.
This is hard to answer without knowing how fast you read. For each chat meeting, you will need to
My experience is that this will take you 3-4 hours to finish properly. In addition, for each chapter (usually 1 per week, but with some short chapters, we will do one per chat meeting), you will need to finish
If you are an AP student or are taking the lab option, lab work will involve another 2 hours per week of your time, depending on what equipment you need to build or collect.
So each week, you should plan to spend 3 hours in class, 6-8 hours in preparation, and 1 hour in testing, or a total of 12 hours a week. A normal high school course requires a minimum of 4 hours of class time and 4 hours of homework. This course is intended to be a college-level introduction to chemistry, so it requires more effort on your part.
My examinations tend to be very thorough, since I am interested in assessing what you have actually learned and understand. The tests are written as though you were a college student (because that is the level of the material we cover), and so are more challenging that a high school chemistry test would be. Because of this, I tend to actually grade rather easily: passing for the course is 50% or better on each of the fall and spring semester finals. Scores in the past have ranged from just below 50% to above 95%. However, if you aim to take either the SAT II chemistry exam or the Advanced Placement exam, you should aim to get at least 70% regularly on the online quizzes.
I send verbal evaluations at the end of each semester that describe your performance on quizzes, homework, class participation, and the final examination. A short summary of this report is included in your formal transcript "comments" section.
Because some government agencies, accrediting institutions, and scholarship committees require more standardized grades, I also issue a numerical score for your work, which is normalized so that it fits the grading scale used by most high schools in evaluating passing, above average, and exceptional work at the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior levels. Unless required, I do not issue a letter grade; the numerical grade is more precise. Your transcript will include instructions on translating a numerical grade to a letter grade.
However your scores are reported, the best way to establish your competence in chemistry or any other science subject for college admission or placement is to take the SAT II examination or AP exam.
Most students in Scholars Online chemistry are upper division students with some experience in the sciences already, and are forming their post-high school education plans. Many of them take standardized tests, but since homeschooled students receive their scores directly from the testing agency, I do not know all the results for all of my students who have taken the chemistry exams. Some students have reported scores on the SAT II between 630 and 750, and AP scores of 3 and 4.
Yes. The two sessions are not different sections of the class with different students. Because of the material we need to cover, the class must meet twice a week. All students must attend both sessions or make alternate arrangements to submit homework assigned.
If you have a conflict with the scheduled sessions, you will need to review your priorities and decide whether or not you can commit to the class. If your outside conflict is short term, I will work with you through the period, but you must plan to attend most of the year\'s sessions.
Yes, I do write letters of recommendation for students for high school or college admission or special programs. However, I cannot write such a letter on the basis of a few months\' work. I require that you finish a complete year of instruction with me first, so that I have a basis for making a evaluation that reflects your true strengths and weaknesses. If this is your first Scholars Online class and your senior year, I may not be able to write your letter. For more details, see my special Letters of Recommendation FAQ.
9. How does the AP option work?
If, after reading my AP Exam description, you decide that you still want to take the AP option for this course, you will need to make a commitment to spending even more time on chemistry. You will attend the regular chemistry sessions twice a week and do all the homework assigned for them. Additionally, you will have 3-5 extra homework problems per chapter which are specially chosen to exercise more sophisticated thinking. We go over these problems in special chat sessions scheduled at our mutual convenience (in the past, they have been early on Friday mornings), at least once a month. During the second semester, we will chose an AP prep book and work through examples and procedures so that you are comfortable with the mechanics of the text as well as the material.
Please note that because of the extra work involved, there is an additional charge for the AP option.
© 2012,2013 This course is offered through Scholars Online, a non-profit organization supporting classical Christian education through Internet-based courses. Permission to copy course content (lessons and labs) for personal study is granted to students currently or formerly enrolled in the course through Scholars Online. Reproduction for any other purpose, without the express written consent of the author, is prohibited.