Help Session on Standard MNRG.5.b

This standard is a pretty straightforward one to master, once you know what to look for. 

There are some groups or families of elements that have special names, probably because of their importance in the early days of chemical understanding.  For quick reference, and to make it easier to communicate with each other, this standard states the expectation that you will be able to identify elements that belong in the groups shown on the drawing below:

image of periodic table with important group names

This periodic table shows the location of the alkali metals, alkaline earth metals transition metals, halogens and noble gases.

After seeing where the locations are, look at a standard periodic table, like this one and try to identify each of the following:

1 calcium (Ca)

2 lithium (Li)

3 xenon (Xe)

4 gold (Au)

5 chlorine (Cl)

6 argon (Ar)

7 barium (Ba)

8 sodium (Na)

9 iron (Fe)

10 bromine (Br)

Check your answers here.



Help Session on Standard MNRG.5.a (GA Chemistry)

This standard is really easy to master, if you know the basic layout of the periodic table.  There is a stairstep-looking boundary that divides the periodic table into its two main parts.  It starts below boron (B) and jogs down underneath silicon (Si), arsenic (As) and tellurium (Te).  Every element that touches this line, except aluminum (Al) is a metalloid (also called a semimetal).  To the right of the boundary are the nonmetals.  Hydrogen looks like it’s on the left, but it is actually also a nonmetal.  To the left of the boundary are the metals, including the two rows on the bottom of the table that start with Ce and Th:

image of periodic table with metal-nonmetal boundary

The blue boundary divides the periodic table into metals (purple zone), nonmetals (green zone) and metalloids (touching the boundary).



Help Session on Standard MNRG.2.b

This standard states:
I am able to state and apply the First Law of Thermodynamics.

We started out with a Statement of the First Law of Thermodynamics. I followed it up with an alternative version, shown in blue:

first law whiteboard

The 1st Law of Thermodynamics, stated 2 different ways.

Then I showed a way of representing the 1st Law of Thermodynamics symbolically.  Whatever energy goes into any device, system or process is the maximum you can get out after the device or process has transformed the energy.


A symbolic way of stating the 1st Law of Thermodynamics

Then I showed an example of what this means, using a scheme many non-scientists over the years have tried to accomplish–using the output from a generator to power the motor that drives the generator:

perpetual motion machine image

This perpetual motion machine couldn’t power anything.

You can never accomplish anything with a scheme like this, because the very maximum amount of energy the generator could produce is the amount needed to power itself.  (Actually, there is a 2nd Law of Thermodynamics that says you can’t even power the motor with this generator, but that’s another topic for another time.)

Next, we looked at several examples of energy sources we use here on earth to heat ourselves and do work.  It turns out that all the energy (even the “free” stuff we get from renewable methods like solar, wind and biomass) is not created, but originally came from the sun, our big power source for this planet.

energy source image

All the energy sources we use in Earth come from the sun either directly or indirectly.




Help Session on Standard MNRG.4

This standard states:

I am able to categorize a sample of matter as one of the following:

  • Heterogeneous mixture
  • Homogeneous mixture
  • Compound
  • Element

To show the difference, I started out with some quick visual definitions:


Elements have their own spot on the periodic table.

An element is the purest form of matter.  Anything that has it’s own spot on the periodic table of the elements is an element.

If two or more elements combine in a chemical reaction, they will form a new type of pure substance that has a distinct ratio of amounts one element to another.

Just because two elements are mixed together doesn’t mean that a compound has formed.  There must be a chemical reaction that produces something completely new.

compound image

Compounds form in chemical reactions between elements.

When two or more substances are placed together and don’t react chemically, the result is what we call a mixture.  Sometimes, it’s obvious that what we have is a mixture, because we can see it by eye.  Mixtures like this are called heterogeneous mixtures (“hetero-” = different):


Heterogeneous mixtures appear to be mixtures by eye.

Sometimes, the particles in the mixture are so small that we can’t really tell they are mixtures, unless we know for sure.  These mixtures are called solutions or homogeneous mixtures (“homo-” = same).  Homogeneous mixtures are easy to confuse with pure substances, just by looking at them:


Homogeneous mixtures look like pure substances by eye.

Next, we looked at real life examples of these classes of matter.

copper image

Copper is an example of an element because it is on the periodic table.


Pure (distilled) water is an example of a compound because H2O is a definite ratio of elements.


This bean salad is a heterogeneous mixture because you can easily see with your eye that it contains more than one type of substance.

KoolAid_ image

This Kool-Aid is a homogeneous mixture because it is made of more than one substance, but I can’t tell that just by looking at it.