The first year. Why start with organic? Organic chemistry, at its heart, is more concrete and conceptual. It is more concrete in that much of it can be understood through the construction of models. It allows us to teach fundamental chemical principles using a simple subset of chemistry, the chemistry of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen). It allows for focus on a central theme – the relationship between chemical structure and function (or reactivity) – a theme which carries over to biology. It also more readily allows for the use of biological examples, which makes the course more interesting and more relevant to the majority of students in the course who are majoring in life sciences.
Our aim is to improve student success by relating content relevant to their interests and by delaying much of the mathematical and theoretical content to the second year, after the students have learned the chemical symbolism.
This approach to the first year courses is similar to the curriculum developed by David Reingold at Juniata College. Initially for the first semester course (CHEM 130 Introduction to Organic Chemistry) we are using Brown and Poon's Introduction to Organic Chemistry as a text along with electronic access to Chapter 2 of Spencer, Bodner & Rickard's General Chemistry . The second semester course (CHEM 233 Foundations of Organic Chemistry) will utilize a standard organic text. For the laboratory, we are developing our own laboratory curriculum and manual. These ancillary curricular materials will be made available to others who wish to adapt or implement our program.
Another textbook option is David Reingold's Organic Chemistry: An Introduction Emphasizing Biological Connections . You can contact the author directly (email) for information about the text and its availability. The first year introductory organic chemistry courses will not be the traditional second-year two-semester organic course, which presupposes a year of college chemistry.
The second year. The second-year courses will cover more quantitative topics than the first year courses. We will utilize standard courses with available textbooks, lowering the barrier for adoption and implementation at other institutions. The first course will be a sophomore level inorganic chemistry course (CHEM 240 Foundations of Inorganic Chemistry). Similar courses exist and textbooks are available. We will augment the text with additional topics usually covered in the traditional general chemistry course. Additional topics from the standard first year course will be covered in our analytical chemistry course (CHEM 250 Foundations of Analytical Chemistry).
The third year. We will offfer an advanced organic synthesis course (lecture and laboratory) designed for chemistry majors and minors (CHEM 333 Synthetic Organic Chemistry). We will use a standard organic textbook, covering the content in one semester. This is possible because the students will be familiar with much of the introductory organic chemistry material from the first year courses.