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onemind

Memorize the elements?

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Hi,

 

I am just starting to learn chemistry and was wondering what the best way to go about it would be. Is it useful to memorize the whole periodic table with some of the key characteristics of each element?

 

Also, i have alway wondered what chemical equations were. Would someone be able to give a brief explanation about what they are and what they are used for. Also, how do you become good at them.

 

Another thing i've always wondered is, there seems to be millions of different compounds, is it just a matter of having good reference material or is it necessary to learn most of the most common ones.

 

Sorry if my questions are too basic :)

 

Thanks

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I never found it useful to memorize the whole periodic table. But it should be noted that the extent of my chemistry career has been six college courses. I picked up most of the characteristics of basic elements and common elements over the years, but I still referenced the periodic table quite frequently. Others will be able to respond to your other questions, I need to sleep.

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there`s no real advantage knowing the PT off by heart, I actualy could fill in most of a blank one from memeory, but that`s over 20 years of repetition, seeing it almost everyday :)

you`ll not need to memorise it, although they used to ask you memorise the first 20, I`m not sure if they even do that today.

 

a chemical equasion is basicly a form of shorthand, saving you time writing the whole thing out in text, a bit like we use numbers in maths, instead of saying things like seven multiplied by eight equals fifty six... 7x8=56 is much easier, getting "good at them" is just practice, at 1`st you`ll only recognise a few element symbols, but with time you`ll learn more.

 

there are indeed millions of compounds, and it would be almost impossible to "know" them all, but when they are writen down correctly, the "name" gives a clue as to it`s structure also. again, over time, you`ll learn to identify frequently used ones withiut even thinking, there`s not many that don`t know what H2O is for instance :)

 

and your questions aren`t too basic at all, they`re good ones :)

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Thanks guys,

 

That was really helpful. I guess i should stop thinking about learning chemistry and just learn it :)

 

Cheers

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Memorizing the elements was fun, but indeed useless. When you're in chem class, you'll have a textbook onhand with all the important info. As far as chemical equations... they get more and more complex, but for starters lets use the reaction of hydrogen gas with oxygen gas: 2H2 + O2 --> 2H2O. This means that 2 moles of hydrogen gas burns with 2 moles of oxygen to produce 2 moles of water. If these terms mean nothing to you right now, you'll soon learn in chem class. And for the millions of organic and inorganic coumpounds, you'll keep hearing new ones and old ones all the time. You'll eventually memorize the common ones and your chem teacher will probably make you memorize the common polyatomic ions.

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it maqy not be good to memorize the periodic table, but it is a good idea to get a feel for the elements. it really, really helps you understando stereoelectronic effects and stereoselectivity later on. exposure is key; through lab experience and much reading i indirectly gained a "feel" for all the elements. it's a good idea and i suggest you try that as well.

 

btw, if you're good, i suggest you get a book on stereoelectronic effects and stereoselectivity.

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Guys, guys, guys. You've made some good posts here, but from the nature of the initial question the concepts of stereoselectivity, moles, electronic structure, etc. are probably way over the initial poster's head. Let's try and keep things simple and just introduce him to the basics. Any general chemistry textbook will be good at telling him anything he needs to know. Getting him into complex concepts and ideas too soon will just frustrate him and make things much more difficult down the line.

 

Onemind; the important thing to remember is that chemistry is a building process. Without a solid foundation you'll have a very difficult time moving ahead. Try and set small goals for yourself and take the subject in small doses. If you try and learn it that way, you'll have a much easier time as you get further and further into the subject. Take a look at your general chemistry textbook and try and do as many of the sample questions as you can. Pretty soon you'll be able to answer them without any problems at all. When that happens, move on to the next chapter etc. etc.

 

(And in case you were wondering, the term 'moles' is simply a counting concept. Like a 'dozen', or a 'pair', it's a term used to describe the number of something.)

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There is nothing wrong with memorizing the periodic table. I think it is easy when I was six I looked at it for hours a day and after a few weeks I had more than half the table memorized. I don't know as many now. It is better just to look when you need it so you know you have the right element.

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hey im 13 an have already memorized the table its not hard just get the families down and go top to bottom the hard part is the actinides and lanthinides.

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i always found memorizing the table useful for tests and stuff, the skill really shines tho if you are into a lot of chemistry and dont have a PT on you at the moment

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chemical equations are a balanced little show of how two chemical rearrange themselves. youll learn this stuff ina little bit i wouldnt go online for advice ask your teacher he/ she could probably explain it better than over the internet

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Is it useful to memorize the whole periodic table with some of the key characteristics of each element?

I don't think it's the best way to learn chemistry. The periodic table isn't just a big group of elements. It is organised based on the properties of the elements. If you learn these properties, and what they mean in terms of chemical reactivity, then you'll have a good understanding of the periodic table without having to memorise it.

Also, i have alway wondered what chemical equations were. Would someone be able to give a brief explanation about what they are and what they are used for. Also, how do you become good at them.

Chemical equations are the equivalent of mathematical equations for chemistry. The basic rule is the same: both sides of the equation must be equal. The example that was given by rthmjohn was:

 

2H2 + O2 --> 2H2O

 

You'll notice that there is a small number 2 after the H in H2. This means that there are two hydrogens bound to each other in this compound. The O2 is similar, there are two oxygens in this compound. In the water there are two hydrogens and one oxygen.

 

There are also the normal size number 2 before the compounds H2 and H2O. These mean that there are two of both of the whole compounds H2 and H2O. The numbers at the start of a compound essentially mean that there are that many compounds on that side of the equation, the numbers after an atom mean that there are that many of that atom in that compound.

 

You use these rules to work out if there are equal numbers of atoms on both sides of the equation. In this case, on the left hand side of the equation the 2H2 means that there are four hydrogen atoms, the O2 means that there are two oxygen atoms. On the right hand side of the equation there are two hydrogen and one oxygen atom in each water molecule, and as there are two water molecules there are also four hydrogen and two oxygen molecules. This means that there are equal numbers of oxygen and hydrogen atoms on both sides of the equation, so it is a correct equation.

Another thing i've always wondered is, there seems to be millions of different compounds, is it just a matter of having good reference material or is it necessary to learn most of the most common ones.

There are far too many compounds to remember them all. However, like the periodic table for elements, there are properties that you can use to understand compounds and determine how they will react.

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