2560 Soquel Avenue Suites 201, 204, 205, Santa Cruz, CA 96062 |   831-331-5611  |  santacruzlearningcenter@gmail.com

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a-g ​High School Chemistry

The price is $650 for the semester or $1300 annually, including all lab materials.

Instructor: Malika Bell, M.S. ​


We will use a free online book through CK-12.

The book is available here.

Algebra I or Integrated Math 1, or equivalent experience.  Students must understand how to use algebra to solve general word problems and equations.  

Course Description: 

This is a one-year standards-based course of study of fundamental chemical concepts. This course is designed to be an introductory course in chemistry to prepare students to succeed in a college-level chemistry course and provide them with a solid foundation to enable them better to explore other scientific fields such as biology, physics, and geosciences. In this laboratory science course, students will be involved in several different learning approaches, such as classroom work, independent bookwork, associated text assignments, laboratory sessions, alternative group work, and applications of mathematics and problem-solving.  The students will demonstrate their critical thinking abilities by answering analytical questions from the textbook, key assignments, and lab activities. The students will gain a greater depth of understanding of fundamental chemical concepts, such as atomic theory and its relation to chemical behavior, chemical bonding, the mole and stoichiometry, molecular kinetics, energy relationships, solution dynamics, acids-bases, equilibrium, organic and biological chemistry, and nuclear interactions. 
This course is designed to help students think scientifically and develop the skills necessary to succeed in an entry-level college chemistry course. Students will develop critical thinking skills required to not only understand key concepts but be able to apply, analyze, and synthesize these concepts. This course is created to give options to students who learn in different ways while ensuring that all students can ask questions, define and solve problems through investigations, analyze and interpret data and use it to create models, argue using evidence, and think critically about Chemistry.  By the end of this course, students will attain these higher-level thinking and processing skills necessary for success in college courses. Students will also master the NGSS and California Chemistry Content Standards.

Fall Semester

Unit 1: Structures and Properties of Matter

In this unit, students will explore matter's fundamental structures and properties, recognizing Chemistry as a vital physical science. The journey begins with an in-depth study of matter, encompassing its properties, elements, and systematic application of the Scientific Method. Students will master units of measurement, scientific measurements, and the essential skill of measurements and calculations. The exploration extends to the atom, tracing its evolution from a philosophical concept to a scientific theory. It offers students a profound understanding of its structure and role as the fundamental building block of matter.
A central focus of this unit is the intricate arrangement of electrons in atoms, encompassing the development of a new atomic model and comprehension of the Quantum Model of the Atom. Students will delve into electron configurations, the historical progression of the Periodic Table, and the interplay between electron configuration and periodic properties. The exploration further extends to chemical bonding, covering covalent and molecular compounds, ionic bonding and ionic compounds, metallic bonding, and molecular geometry. With this knowledge, students will adeptly use the periodic table to solve chemical problems, infer and predict chemical bonding, and articulate chemical equations. Practical applications of electron configuration will empower students to predict and analyze chemical reactions in laboratory settings. Throughout this unit, essential skills such as drawing accurate molecular geometry representations, understanding chemical formulas, compounds, oxidation numbers, and the practical use of chemical equations will be honed. The unit concludes with a focus on real-world chemistry issues, guiding students to comprehend their significance within a broader context.

Unit 2: Chemical Bonding & Reactions
In this unit, students will master the fundamentals of chemical formulas and compounds, encompassing the comprehension of chemical names, formulas, and oxidation numbers. The exploration extends to the practical applications of using, determining, and describing chemical formulas, equations, and reactions. Students will delve into various types of chemical reactions, the activity series of elements, and the crucial principles of Stoichiometry. Students will navigate concepts such as limiting reactants and percentage yields through ideal stoichiometric calculations, fostering a quantitative understanding of chemical processes.
A pivotal focus of this unit involves students defining and predicting chemical equations, coupled with the ability to hypothesize and analyze these equations in a laboratory setting. Students will adeptly predict reactions, construct models, categorize reactions, and provide well-supported answers, leveraging their knowledge of electron configuration and bonding. The unit emphasizes chemical nomenclature, and applying stoichiometry to determine limiting reactants and percent yields ensures students develop a robust skill set for practical and analytical engagement with chemical reactions, with the ability to justify their answers through calculations.

Spring Semester

Unit 3: Matter, Energy, and Equilibrium

 In this unit, students will delve into the intricate realms of reaction energy and thermochemistry, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the driving forces behind chemical reactions. The exploration extends to reaction kinetics, encompassing the intricacies of the reaction process, rates, and the fundamental nature of chemical equilibrium. Building on prior knowledge from Unit 3 and Unit 5, students will apply their understanding to predict and elucidate the reaction chemistry and equilibrium of acids, bases, and various chemical reactions.
A pivotal aspect of this unit involves modeling shifting equilibrium and elucidating the factors influencing this delicate balance. Students will interpret graphs depicting reaction energy and utilize this data to predict the equilibrium points of each reaction. The unit's practical applications include demonstrating the driving forces of reactions and reaction kinetics through both laboratory and hypothetical scenarios. Additionally, students will engage in constructing a battery and fuel cell, offering insights into the ways salts react, utilizing electrons to produce energy. This unit also prompts critical thinking about how the principles of reaction chemistry can be harnessed to meet our world's growing demand for green energy and anticipate potential future changes in the energy industry.

​Unit 4:  Organic and Nuclear Chemistry

In this comprehensive unit, students will journey through diverse branches of chemistry, starting with Oxidation-Reduction reactions and extending to the intricacies of balancing Redox equations, identifying oxidizing and reducing agents, and exploring electrochemistry. Practical applications include the completion and prediction of redox reactions in both laboratory and hypothetical scenarios, demanding a meticulous approach to equation balancing with justifications. A significant focus is placed on electrochemistry, where students create voltaic cells and articulate an understanding of their functionality.
The unit further delves into Nuclear Chemistry, unraveling the mysteries of the nucleus, radioactive decay, nuclear radiation, and the principles underlying atomic fission and fusion. Students will predict and analyze the results of nuclear reactions, utilizing their knowledge to formulate opinions about the relationship between nuclear decay and the carbon cycle and dating methods. Atomic structure and decay knowledge will be applied to explain and predict half-life, accompanied by formulating half-life equations. Additionally, students will delve into Organic Chemistry, exploring organic compounds, hydrocarbons, functional groups, and organic reactions. Students will draw and model organic compounds, building on foundational knowledge from preceding units and explaining the rationale behind their shape and bonding. The unit culminates in applying biological and organic chemistry knowledge to understand the intricate workings of the human body and other living systems.

​Unit 5: Final Project

Final Project on Ocean acidification and Salinity

Students have the option of taking this course as an honors course. An Honors Course will better prepare students for Chemistry in College. Contact Malika Bell with questions about the Honors option.