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Preliminary Chemistry - 2009

The launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery involves huge chemical reactions.   The reaction in the large red external tanks is between hydrogen and oxygen to produce enormous volumes of extremely hot water vapour (steam).

In the solid booster rockets (white) on the sides of the external tank,  ammonium perchlorate (NH4ClO4) reacts with aluminium metal to produce white aluminium oxide and aluminium chloride, water vapour and nitrogen gas.

These reactions generate huge amounts of heat energy which expand the gases produced pushing them out the nozzles of the rockets.   The temperature of the gases produced is about 3,000oC.  As the gases are pushed down, the rocket is pushed up in accordance with Newton’s Third Law of Motion.   (Every force produces an equal and opposite force.)

Like the shuttle, YOU will need to be fully loaded with fuel, motivation, willingness and ability to work hard if you want to achieve orbit - the H.S.C. Chemistry course. 


Welcome to Chemistry!   Chemistry is about the different kinds of stuff/matter/materials/substances - their nature, behaviour, properties and how one kind of stuff changes into other kinds of stuff.   (Physics, biology and geology are separate subjects, but the boundaries are blurry and arbitrary.)

Often (but not always) we will be talking about pure substances.  Most of the rest of the time we will be considering pure substances dissolved in water.

I hope you enjoy the course - I’ve tried hard to make it as interesting as possible, even if that means diverting from the syllabus a little bit. 

There are five Year 11 Chemistry topics.   The first topic is identified as “9.1 Chemistry Skills”.   It should not be thought of as a separate topic but one which is incorporated as an integral part of the other four topics.   That does not mean it is less important - in fact, because at least 50% of the school-based assessment in Chemistry must be based on practical work, it is a very important part of your work. 

The five Year 11 Chemistry topics are:

1 Chemistry Skills   (Throughout the Year 11 course)

2 The Chemical Earth  (28th January ~ 18th March 2009)

3 Metals  (~18th March ~ 27th May 2009)

4 Water   (~27th May ~ 12th August 2009)

5 Energy   (~12th August ~ 30th September 2009)

Each of these links to a page of “dot points” from the syllabus.

When you are studying for the H.S.C. next year you will refer to these dot points to make sure I have covered all the material. You would be well advised to start doing that now.

My own brief notes on each topic are available by clicking on the buttons at the bottom of this page.  These are only an outline of the dot points and are not a substitute for thorough reading of the textbook(s), other resources and work done in class.

The notes were usually written independently of the texts supplied - I have mostly used web-based resources. Please tell me if you find something you think is wrong so that I can fix it.


These are referred to in the syllabus and in the assessment schedule.  Each assessment task will assess your achievement of a small number of outcomes.  It may be helpful to refer to these when preparing for an assessment task.

Useful links:   Chemistry syllabus   Glossary of key words used in the syllabus, examination and assessment tasks   Interesting lecturettes/demos of the chemical elements.   Lots of chemistry videos

http://elements.vanderkrogt.netInterested in history? You’ll love this!  fascinating stuff about the elements and especially where their names come from.  A very large and useful set of links to other sites relevant to this course.

Study tips: 

  1. Bullet(Reference - Confucius [~2500 b.p.] translated)

  2. “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”  (I teach and I own.)

  3. “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

  4. “Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.”

  5. “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached,  don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

  6. .... in other words, you may learn from reading these pages or reading a chemistry text, but you would own the ideas that you expressed in your own words in web pages like these.  If you don’t want to bother with doing that, taking notes in your own words would be incredibly valuable.  Think about chemistry.  If you want better marks, work harder.

  1. BulletRead books or webpages about study skills.  Some examples -

  2.  (This is excellent - a gold mine!)





  1. BulletTalk in class!   I expect my students to listen carefully and silently whilst I am speaking, and to take notes on paper.   Nevertheless, it is vital that at an appropriate time you interact with me so that I can gauge the level of your understanding as well as answer your questions.   (Remember that you are one member of the class and have no right to monopolise my attention.)   “Interact” means to ask questions, check your understanding, contribute something relevant that you’ve read, heard or seen.

  1. BulletDiscuss chemistry out of class.   Verbalising knowledge cements it in your understanding.  There is no better way to learn something than to teach (or speak) it.  Outline an idea you heard in class to a friend, parent, tutor, teacher or anybody you feel comfortable talking to.

Assessments:  Click on the link to a see the assessment tasks.


“Hegarty” on the following pages refers to “Year 11 Preliminary Chemistry Student Workbook” collated by Bronwen Hegarty

Year 11 Chemistry home page

My home page