Thermodynamics is difficult enough to teach (and to learn!) at any level. Presenting the topic in the context of General Chemistry is even more challenging owing to the need to compromise (some would say "bowdlerize") the treatment to fit the limits imposed by student background and class time. These considerations lead some to advocate simply dropping the subject from General Chemistry, leaving only a bit of thermochemistry and a superficial mention of free energy. Others respond that thermodynamics is one of the major unifying concepts that cuts across all natural science, and that our students deserve at least a qualititative introduction to its major ideas and applications.
The Chemical Energetics lessons are designed with both camps in mind; students can limit themselves to thermochemistry and calorimetry, or go on to a fairly extensive treatment of the First Law and its applications. The present lessons do not include material on the Second Law, entropy, or the free energy; these topics are planned for a subsequent lesson set which is yet to be written.
Although these lessons are written at a level suitable for General Chemistry, they are by no means limited to this level. They provide a good review of some aspects of the subject for more advanced courses, and they can even usefully supplement a standard physical chemistry course in which students are all too often able to solve the numerical problems without having much understanding of the underlying concepts.
The Chemical Energetics lessons are organized into thirteen sections as detailed below:
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