The story of chemistry begins with the building of the Periodic Table from speculation, debate and experimental evidence. The electron configuration of an element, its tendency to form a particular bond type and its ability to behave as an oxidant or reductant can all be linked to its position in the Periodic Table. Students study the models for metallic, ionic and covalent bonding. They consider the widespread use of polymers as an example of the importance of chemistry to their everyday lives. Students investigate the uses of materials and how these have changed.
Students are introduced to the development and application of ‘smart’ materials. Developing new materials has escalated with the use of synchrotron science that explores particle behaviour at an ever decreasing size. Some examples of new materials are alloys, fibres and compounds incorporating polymers, ceramics, biopolymers, films and coatings.
How Can the Knowledge of Elements Explain the Properties of Matter?
In this area of study students focus on the nature of chemical elements, their atomic structure and their place in the periodic table. They review the historical development of, and the relationship between, the Periodic Table and atomic theory. Spectral evidence which led to the Bohr model and subsequently the Schrodinger model for Atomic Structure is also considered. Students examine the Periodic Table as a unifying framework into which elements are placed based upon similarities in their electronic configuration. They explore the link between the electronic configuration of an element and the type of bonding in which it participates. Students are introduced to many of the major qualitative and quantitative ideas fundamental to chemistry including empirical formulas of ionic compounds and the mole concept. They undertake practical activities that build their understanding of the Periodic Table.
How Can the Versatility of Non-Metals be Explained?
In this area of study students explore a wide range of materials and substances, made from non-metals including molecular substances, covalent lattices, carbon nanomaterials, organic compounds and polymers. Students investigate the relationship between the electronic configurations of non-metallic atoms and the resultant structures and properties of a range of molecular substances and covalent lattices. They compare how these structures for non-metallic substances are represented and explore the limitations of such models. Students study a variety of organic compounds and how they are grouped into distinct chemical families. They apply the rules of systematic nomenclature to each of these chemical families. Students investigate useful materials that are made from non-metals, and relate their properties and uses to their structures. They explore the modification of polymers and the use of carbon based nanoparticles for specific applications.
How Do Substances Interact with Water?
Students explore the special properties (chemical and physical) of water which make it so important to living things and relate the properties to chemical bonding characteristics. The key knowledge includes:
How are Substances in Water Measured and Analysed?
In this area of study students focus on the use of analytical techniques, both in the laboratory and in the field, to measure the solubility and concentrations of solutes in water, and to analyse water samples for various solutes including chemical contaminants.
Students examine the origin and chemical nature of substances that may be present in a water supply, including contaminants, and outline sampling techniques used to assess water quality. They measure the solubility of substances in water, explore the relationship between solubility and temperature using solubility curves and learn to predict when a solute will dissolve or crystallise out of solution.
The concept of molarity is introduced and students measure concentrations of solutions using a variety of commonly used units. Students apply the principles of stoichiometry to gravimetric and volumetric analyses of aqueous solutions and water samples. Instrumental techniques include the use of colorimetry and/or UV–visible spectroscopy to estimate the concentrations of coloured species in solutions, atomic absorption spectroscopy data to determine the concentration of metal ions in solutions and high performance liquid chromatography data to calculate the concentration of organic compounds in solution.
End of Semester Examination – 1.5 hours.
Information can be obtained from the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, Victoria, Australia: https://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/curriculum/vce/vce-study-designs/chemistry/Pages/Index.aspx
Students complete a Headstart program of study in Elements and the Periodic Table during the summer holidays to give them a solid foundation in these chemistry skills and a practice SAC so as to prepare them for their first assessment SAC which are in the form of topic tests.