• Course Introduction

        • Time: 36 hours
        • Free Certificate
        The ancient Egyptians first identified, studied, and applied the principles of chemistry to extract metal from ores, make alcoholic beverages, glaze pottery, turn fat into soap, and much more. What began as a quest to build better weapons and create potions capable of ensuring everlasting life became the foundation of modern science. Take a look around you: chemistry is the science that describes everything you touch, see, and feel, from the shampoo you used this morning to the plastic container that holds your lunch! In this course, we study chemistry from the ground up, beginning with the basics of the atom and its behavior, then progressing to the chemical properties of matter and the chemical changes and reactions that take place all the time in our world.

        • Course Syllabus

          First, read the course syllabus. Then, enroll in the course by clicking "Enroll me". Click Unit 1 to read its introduction and learning outcomes. You will then see the learning materials and instructions on how to use them.

        • Unit 1: Matter and Measurements

          Chemistry is the study of matter and how we can change matter chemically and physically. What is matter? Matter is everything around us that has mass and volume. Matter can be any phase - solid, liquid, or gas. In this unit, we explore the properties, phases, and how we measure matter. We review the standard units of measurement and how to report our measurements using significant figures.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 3 hours.

        • Unit 2: The Atom

          The atom is the basic unit of matter and serves as our starting point for the study of chemistry. The atom is composed of the subatomic particles protons, neutrons, and electrons. Scientists have studied atoms for hundreds of years and have developed a number of different models to describe them, as experimental technology has improved and new discoveries have been made. Chemists currently use the quantum mechanical model of the atom. In this unit, we explore the structure and properties of atoms. We also study some of the basic tenets of quantum mechanics, and how quantum mechanics describes atomic structure. Finally, we learn about the structure and organization of the periodic table of the elements.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

        • Unit 3: Bonding

          Bonds are connections between atoms. A solid grasp of valence shell electron pair repulsion (VSEPR) theory will help you understand how elements that differ by one or two atomic numbers behave. According to VSEPR theory, the number of electrons an element has corresponds with its chemical properties. For example, sodium differs from neon and potassium by one atomic number, but it resembles potassium, not neon. Sodium and potassium both have one valence electron, which explains their similar properties, while neon is a stable element with eight valence electrons. We use VSEPR to predict the three-dimensional structure, or geometry, of molecules.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

        • Unit 4: Chemical Formulas and Equations

          Chemists need to write out formulas and equations to solve chemistry problems. It is important that chemists have a common set of rules for writing formulas and equations so they can communicate with other scientists. In this unit, we begin to name and write formulas for compounds, and learn how to write and balance chemical equations. Equations enable us to describe chemistry topics in mathematical terms and predict the outcomes of reactions. For example, what volume of steam is created if we turn one kilogram of ice into pure steam, at 200 degrees Celsius and sea-level air pressure? We can calculate the precise answer when we write the reaction out in the form of an equation!

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 4 hours.

        • Unit 5: States of Matter

          In this unit, we explore how matter behaves in terms of the three main phases of matter: solids, liquids, and gases. We investigate gases first because their properties are described by well-defined equations. Next, we study phase changes, which we describe in terms of a graph known as a phase diagram. We finish this unit with an exploration of the properties of solids.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 7 hours.

        • Unit 6: Thermochemistry and Thermodynamics

          In this unit, we study thermodynamics and thermochemistry. Thermodynamics is the study of heat transfer. Thermochemistry is specifically the study of heat transfer in chemical reactions. We were introduced to thermodynamics in Unit 5 when we learned about the energy associated with phase changes. Thermodynamics and thermochemistry allow us to predict whether a reaction will produce heat, such as the burning of a candlewick, or if a reaction will require heat to proceed, such as the reaction that occurs inside a disposable cold pack. In this unit we also learn about Gibbs Free Energy, which tells us whether a reaction is spontaneous, meaning the reaction will occur without external "help".

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hours.

        • Unit 7: Acid-Base and Oxidation-Reduction Reactions

          In this unit, we study two important types of chemical reactions: acid-base and oxidation-reduction. We will discuss how these types of reactions occur in all aspects of science and in everyday life. We will also review the properties of acids and bases and introduce two acid-base definitions: Arrhenius and Brønsted-Lowry. We will perform pH calculations and learn how to use the pH scale to identify acidic and alkaline solutions. Then, we will discuss oxidation and reduction, also known as electron transfer reactions. We will also learn how to write and balance equations for oxidation-reduction reactions and introduce some common oxidizing and reducing agents.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 4 hours.

        • Unit 8: Nuclear Chemistry

          Finally, we'll examine the processes of nuclear decay, nuclear fusion, and nuclear fission. Unlike all other types of chemical reactions, which involve electrons, nuclear reactions involve the nucleus of the atom. In this unit we discuss different types of nuclear decay, learn how to write equations that describe nuclear reactions, review the concept of half-life in the context of radioactive decay, and learn how we use nuclear fission to generate electric energy.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 2 hours.

        • Study Guide

          This study guide will help you get ready for the final exam. It discusses the key topics in each unit, walks through the learning outcomes, and lists important vocabulary. It is not meant to replace the course materials!

        • Course Feedback Survey

          Please take a few minutes to give us feedback about this course. We appreciate your feedback, whether you completed the whole course or even just a few resources. Your feedback will help us make our courses better, and we use your feedback each time we make updates to our courses. If you come across any urgent problems, email contact@saylor.org.

        • Final Exam

            • Certificate Final Exam

              Take this exam if you want to earn a free Course Completion Certificate.

              To receive a free Course Completion Certificate, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on this final exam. Your grade for the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt.

              Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.

            • Saylor Direct Credit

              Take this exam if you want to earn college credit for this course. This course is eligible for college credit through Saylor Academy's Saylor Direct Credit Program.

              The Saylor Direct Credit Final Exam requires a proctoring fee of $5. To pass this course and earn a Credly Badge and official transcript, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on the Saylor Direct Credit Final Exam. Your grade for this exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again a maximum of 3 times, with a 14-day waiting period between each attempt.

              We are partnering with SmarterProctoring to help make the proctoring fee more affordable. We will be recording you, your screen, and the audio in your room during the exam. This is an automated proctoring service, but no decisions are automated; recordings are only viewed by our staff with the purpose of making sure it is you taking the exam and verifying any questions about exam integrity. We understand that there are challenges with learning at home - we won't invalidate your exam just because your child ran into the room!


              1. Desktop Computer
              2. Chrome (v74+)
              3. Webcam + Microphone
              4. 1mbps+ Internet Connection

              Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a Credly Badge and can request an official transcript.