Class Feature: Chemistry Honors

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Most people assume that chemistry is a boring subject, but this simply isn’t true if one has the right instructor.

At St. James High School, in room D114, Mrs. Rubin teaches Honors Chemistry in first, third, and fourth block.

Students in Honors Chemistry learn about the ins and outs of the scientific field of chemistry, building off of basic knowledge learned in past science classes. Students begin with the basics, learning about the properties of matter and the structure of atoms. Students learn how to read periodic tables, analyze trends within them, and the properties of various elements and groups. 

Along with learning how to read periodic tables, students also learn how to configure elements using both orbital notation and noble gas configuration. Students then advance into learning about bonding, chemical compounds, Lewis structures, and molecular geometry as a whole. Students will continue to advance into more complex topics, leading all the way up to the basics of nuclear chemistry.

Students can expect to take part in many labs within Honors Chemistry, especially if they are taking Mrs. Rubin’s class. Mrs. Rubin prefers to teach chemistry through hands-on lessons and interactive experiences rather than via notes only. Labs can range from studying the weights of candies to burning chemical compounds to see what color the flame becomes. 

Of course, safety is extremely important during chemistry labs; lab equipment and safety procedures are regularly reviewed and strictly enforced within the lab space. So long as safety rules are followed closely, labs are an opportunity to learn in a more entertaining fashion, and are the most exciting part of Honors Chemistry.

“I like the pacing. The labs make it easy to follow along with the topic for the unit,” says Mia Zogopoulos, a student in Mrs. Rubin’s class.

Although chemistry is an interesting subject, it is not an easy one by any means. Unlike the science fields taken prior to chemistry, such as Earth Science or Biology, Honors Chemistry is not a class about memorizing facts and vocabulary. It is much more focused on developing an understanding of why things happen, rather than simply just learning about what happens.

Careful consideration of both common sense and the rules of science learned from lessons is needed to fully grasp chemistry. As this class is Honors Chemistry, more in-depth studies of these topics is a part of the class. The ability to make connections is extremely important if one wants to learn from and pass this class.

“I love when the students are doing labs, and they make connections to the content,” says Mrs. Rubin.

Chemistry is a required class, and must be taken after Biology and prior to a third science credit. It is a necessary piece of the field of science education, as it teaches important skills that will follow students into any third science credit class, like Physics or Forensics. If a student wishes to pursue a career in science post-graduation, the information taught in this class, especially that of an honors class, will set the foundations for the knowledge needed to lead a successful career as a scientist. Otherwise, Honors Chemistry can teach students fundamental life skills, such as chemical safety, how to understand chemical bonding and its many components, and so much more.

“I have learned how to properly read a periodic table with ease, which is very interesting to me,” says Miranda Burton, a student in Mrs. Rubin’s class.