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AP-Chemistry-Introduction-Letter

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					AP Chemistry Introduction Letter
Mr. Langford
May 2011



 Welcome to AP Chemistry!! You already have a background in chemistry from your
General Chemistry class, but AP Chem is very different. This course is designed to be the
equivalent of a first year, general chemistry college course. Rather than memorizing how to
do particular types of problems, you must really understand the chemistry and be able to
apply it to all sorts of different situations. To succeed, you must keep up with the assignments
and be willing to spend time working through the material. The College Board states that for
a student to succeed in AP Chemistry, they must be willing to spend 5 hours a week in
individual study outside of the classroom. This is just a suggestion, but the fact that they
chose such a large amount of time is a good indicator of the difficulty normally associated
with this course (and all other AP courses). Thankfully, the benefits of taking an AP class
like this one are well worth the effort. Here are a few of the benefits I have observed:

    1) AP Chemistry will challenge you to the limits of your academic ability. No one
       taking this class will deem it “too easy”, and therefore not stimulate you to do
       your very best. This class will teach you to think at higher levels. AP problems
       (even those of the multiple choice variety) force you to think and apply concepts
       in new situations.
    2) One of the most obvious benefits to this course is that when you take and pass the
       national AP Chemistry Exam given in May, you will receive college credit for the
       course when you enroll at most colleges and universities in the United States. This
       will save you both time and money. Here are the course credit hours given by
       some of the surrounding community colleges and universities:
     College/University             Score on AP Exam                   Credit Hours
          Ole Miss                           4-5                          3 hours
      Mississippi State                       3                           3 hours
                                             4-5                          6 hours
       Southern Miss                          3                           3 hours
                                             4-5                          6 hours
       Northwest CC                          3-4                          3 hours
                                              5                           6 hours

        [Some students who have passed the AP Exam elect to take first year college
        chemistry anyway, where they find the material an easy review, and achieve top
        grades while others around them are frustrated and struggling in a class which is
        too large and/or the instructor is unavailable for help. I especially recommend this
        approach for students considering majoring in chemistry or biochemistry.]
3) AP Chemistry (or any other AP course) looks great on your transcript or on a
   letter of recommendation. More and more of the best colleges and universities are
   looking for ways that students have distinguished themselves in high school.
   Being a "straight A" student no longer carries the weight it once did, and many
   4.0 grade average students are finding themselves denied entry at the college of
   their choice. One of the first things admissions officers ask counselors about a
   potential candidate for their university is „did this student take the most
   challenging courses available?‟ Taking the AP courses offered here at Lafayette
   High School is a way of distinguishing yourself.

4) As difficult as AP Chemistry is, you will find that it will never be as easy to learn
   Freshman Chemistry as it is now. There are several reasons for this:

a. High school classes are generally much smaller than college classes.

b. Some college professors don't regard teaching Freshman Chemistry as a priority;
   many concentrate on their research, and consider teaching to be an interruption
   and distraction to that end. (This is of course not true of many of the professors at
   our universities. I was fortunate in that almost all of my college chemistry classes
   were taught by professors who cared a great deal about educating their students
   and helping them reach their goals.)

c. At times Freshman Chemistry is used to "weed out" students. Most colleges
   prefer not to have large class sizes in their upper division courses. Therefore the
   grades and difficulty level of the freshman courses are adjusted so that only small
   numbers of very outstanding students will be able to move on. This can result in a
   large portion of students in freshman chemistry flunking the course.



Materials: We will get into all of the material requirements for this class when the
school year begins. A graphing calculator is highly recommended (the beginning of
the summer is a good time to purchase used TI graphing calculators from reputable
dealers online due to the large amount of calculators sold by college students at the
end of the school year). Also recommended is an AP Chemistry review book. I have
several different versions available for students to borrow throughout the year, but
owning your own is a good idea. I highly recommend this book: Cracking the AP
Chemistry Exam by The Princeton Review (students have told me they like their
ACT review books as well). (This book can usually be found for around $15 online.)
There are many more review books out there beside this one; any of them would be
helpful.
Class Notes/Tests:

I was fortunate enough to attend an AP workshop during the summer of 2010. The
instructor of this course worked for the National Math and Science Initiative, and at
the end of the workshop I was very impressed with the material NMSI has composed
for this course. We will use the lecture notes, quizzes, and tests that they generously
made available to those taking the workshop (I will also provide materials prepared
by me throughout the school year). Their quizzes and tests are old AP problems split
up into their topic areas. Each test has a multiple choice section followed by several
free response questions. This ensures that students are comfortable with the phrasing
and structure of AP questions far in advance of the May exam. We will use the notes
and worksheets made available through their student website:

                       http://apchemistrynmsi.wikispaces.com/

The structure and pace of the class allow us to cover what are generally considered
the hardest six topics by Christmas break (Stoichiometry, Electrochemisty,
Thermochemistry, Kinetics, Equilibrium, and Acid-Base Equilibrium). I believe it is
best to cover these topics first and periodically revisit them instead of covering them
in the months immediately preceding the May exam. The final four topics (Atomic
Structure and Periodicity, Bonding, Gas Laws and Solutions, and States of Matter)
are covered during the first three months of the second semester, leaving April open
for topic review and exam practice.

Summer Assignment:

Yes, a summer assignment. Gasp. Sigh. I‟m not trying to drive you out of this class
by giving you work to do over the summer. This assignment is intended to serve as a
review of some basic knowledge that will be required when we begin class in August.
It is better to brush up on this material before beginning the school year so you can
focus your time on more challenging material. Your assignment is as follows:

1) Read through and work out any example problems found in the first two sets of
   notes (Chemical Foundations and Atoms, Molecules, Ions). (These notes are
   available at the above website. I will also post them to the class website found at
   http://teacherweb.com/MS/LafayetteHighSchool/Langford/apt1.aspx). This is all
   material that you have seen before. Have your notes (with example problems
   worked out) with you during our first class meeting. A quiz will be given on the
   second day of class for this material. It would be a good idea to take a look at the
   third set of notes (Stoichiometry), it will be the topic of our first test.
2) Memorize the attached solubility rules (students who took Chemistry I during the
   2010-2011 school year will recognize these rules, it is amazing how often
   solubility questions arise in chemistry. Memorizing these rules will pay off during
   the study of multiple topics)

				
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