course
Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry

May 2012

In the interest of full disclosure, I got a C+ in this class. Despite this, taking this course with Professor Owen was still a good choice. He is by far one of the best teachers in the entire Chemistry department, right up there with Leighton. This is a difficult class, and this was evidenced by the midterm exam. Not a single person in the class finished the test. The highest grade was an 86 with an average in the high 50s or low 60s. A lot of knowledge that you are assumed to remember nearly perfectly from General Chemistry, like VSEPR, Lewis dot structures, periodic trends and the like is absolutely necessary for success in this course. Memorize the periodic table up to Ac (not including the f-block elements) over the break beforehand if you can. It will save you valuable study time later on. Although the course bulletin only requires Organic Chemistry II as a co-requesite, a strong intuition in chemistry is required, and it may be beneficial to have an extra semester of "lower" level chemistry before attempting this class. That said, it is unlike any chemistry you have ever taken before in your life. There are also no more humanities pre-meds to help the curve. There is a lot of information to cover, and if you want to have a chance at doing well, you best have some familiarity with matrices and group theory for symmetry. If these concepts are entirely new to you, you will either struggle with this class, struggle with your other classes or both. The material itself is quite interesting, and begins with a 2-3 class overview of the entirety of General Chemistry. From there, the class moves into symmetry and molecular orbital theory before moving into transition metal complexes. A little bit of spectroscopy as it relates to transition metal complexes is covered, before the course enters the realm of organometallic chemistry, and finishes off with a brief overview of metals and semi metals. The problem sets ranged from easy to difficult, but Professor Owen explicitly permitted collaboration between students. If you can set aside a few hours a week to meet up in a group to work through the problems, it will be highly beneficial to you. If you are taking 6+ classes, and can barely find time to do the problem sets, waiting until a lighter semester would be ideal. If you are a Chemistry major, then you have no choice. You have to take this class, and hopefully, for your sake, Professor Owen will still be teaching it. If you are a Biochemistry major, be sure that you are really interested in chemistry before taking this class. It is difficult, and it will consume a significant amount of your time. If you like chemistry though, I highly recommend it. If you are only somewhat interested in the chemistry aspects of the major, save yourself the agony and take more biology classes. Owen will help you if you ask for it, and he scheduled review sessions at times that could not have possibly been convenient for him. One was two nights before the midterm at 9PM, and the final review was at 9:30AM during reading week, when he otherwise would not have had to teach. He tries to allow student participation to the extent that it is possible in a science lecture class, albeit a smaller one. Go to office hours. Ask your TA.