Acid/Base Chemistry: From Food to Everyday Phenomena

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
July 22, 2019 - July 26, 20197/22 - 7/26M-F 8:30A-11:20AOpenLeonard Sprague

Course Description

What makes a lemon sour, and our coffee bitter? How do giant sinkholes spontaneously appear? And how in the world did they get that red stain out of your white shirt? Throughout the day there are nearly uncountable occurrences of acid/base chemistry, with many resulting in wildly different outcomes. In this 1 week course, we will aim to grasp the core principles behind acid/base chemistry to understand how an apparently simple reaction is applied in so many unique ways.

This course will begin with a brief discussion of the origins of acid/base reactions (how they were originally observed and characterized) to understand the underpinnings of this topic, and move into Arrhenius, Bronsted-Lowry, and Lewis acid/base theories. Each discussion topic will be partnered with a "benchtop" chemical reaction(s) in which physical properties may either be observed or demonstrated, followed by a brief write-up to solidify concepts. Simultaneously, calculations of pH, dissociation constants, and interpretation of common visuals related to this field will be explored in order to prepare students for upcoming college coursework. Students will also gain familiarity with manual and automatic pH equipment, UV-vis (for color change verifications), laboratory glassware (e.g. volumetric pipets and flasks) and safety practices.

By the end of the 1 week course, students will be able to:
-explain common acid/base phenomena and apply it to new problems
-have foundational skills in calculating properties of an acid/base system (pH, dissociation constants, etc...)
-utilize some common laboratory equipment, both glassware and electronic instrumentation, with the proper safety measures
-develop critical thinking techniques for approaching problems from a chemical perspective, preparing them for future studies in chemistry or related endeavours

Prerequisites: Prior general chemistry courses will allow for easier assimilation of course material, but is not required. Algebra is highly recommended.


Course Information

  • Course Code: CECH0902
  • Length: 1 week
  • Supplemental Fee: $100

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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