M01_REEC5174_09_IE_2-9 - Notes to Instructors Chapter 2 The...

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Notes to Instructors Chapter 2 The Chemical Context of Life Chapter 3 Water and the Fitness of the Environment What is the focus of these activities? Living organisms function in the real world, so they are subject to all the laws of chemistry and physics. In addition, biological organisms and systems are variable. No two organisms are exactly alike, and no two systems are identical in form or function. As a result, our analysis of such systems tends to deal with statistical averages or probabilities. This means that it is difficult to understand biological systems without having a good basic understanding of chemistry, physics, and math (including probability and statistics). The vast majority of introductory biology students have studied inorganic chemistry in their high school and first-year college chemistry courses. Many students compartmentalize their knowledge, however. In some cases, the compartmentalization is so extreme that the students feel uncomfortable dealing with chemical formulas and ideas outside of chemistry classes. Therefore, it is generally useful to review some of the basic ideas in chemistry and, at the same time, demonstrate how they can be applied to understanding biological systems. What are the particular activities designed to do? Activity 2.1 A Quick Review of Elements and Compounds The questions in this activity are designed to help students review and understand: atomic/molecular number, mass number, and atomic/molecular weight and how they can be used to determine the reactivity of elements; various types of chemical bonds and how they affect the structure and energetics of molecules; and the difference between a mole and a molar equivalent and how a knowledge of these can be used in biological applications. Activity 3.1 A Quick Review of the Properties of Water The questions in this activity are designed to help students review and understand the properties of water and how they support life. Students are asked to review these key properties: H2O molecules are cohesive; they form hydrogen bonds with each other. H2O molecules are adhesive; they form hydrogen bonds with polar surfaces. Water is a liquid at normal physiological (or body) temperatures. Water has a high specific heat. Water has a high heat of vaporization. Water’s greatest density occurs at 4°C. Reece_IG Ch 2_9-1
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In addition, students review pH and how it is related to both the ionization constant of pure water and the concentration of H + ions in a solution. What misconceptions or difficulties can these activities reveal? Activity 2.1 Question 1: Many students don’t understand that nutrients for plants are inorganic and most nutrients for animals (heterotrophs) are organic. Questions 2 and 3: Most students know how to balance a chemical equation. Fewer understand the relationship
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M01_REEC5174_09_IE_2-9 - Notes to Instructors Chapter 2 The...

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