Chemical processes

Foundational Concept 5: The principles that govern chemical interactions and reactions form the basis for a broader understanding of the molecular dynamics of living systems.
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Dot structures

5B: We can’t always see molecules, but we can always simplify and draw depictions of them with simply pen and paper. It is the language of chemistry that we want you to get acquainted with. You will learn to draw Lewis dot structures and resonance structures, assign formal charges, and analyze the geometry of molecules and ions.


5B: Even molecules with the same chemical formula can have different shapes even though they may be comprised of the same atoms. For instance, with one sheet of paper, you can make origami swans of so many different shapes - similarly molecules can come in different conformations. We will walk through the concepts of structural and conformational isomers as well as stereoisomers and diastereomers

Covalent bonds

5B: Eating popcorn alone at a movie theater can be quite lonely - but sharing with someone special can feel...well, special! Sharing is caring is caring with atoms too! In a covalent bond, two atoms share electron pairs in their orbitals. We will discuss the mechanism of this bonding as well as the idea of electron orbital hybridization in this tutorial.

Separations and purifications

5C: Did you know that digitalis, one of the oldest medicines used to increase cardiac contractility, is derived from the foxglove plant? When you are in the Amazon rainforest searching for a cure for cancer in a new exotic plant, your potential miracle drug of interest is not originally pure - it must be separated from the other contaminating components. Through these tutorials you will learn how to separate and purify chemical compounds using organic chemistry lab techniques such as extraction, distillation, chromatography, and gel electrophoresis.


5D: DNA makes RNA, and RNA makes proteins,, which are one of the most important biomolecules of our bodies. They are comprised of even smaller amino acids, which are held together by peptide bonds to form proteins. You will discover the structure and functions of proteins at the cellular level in this tutorial.


Table sugar and corn syrup have the same chemical formula, so why do they taste different? The answer is in their stereochemistry. Learn how to assign chirality, interpret Fischer projections, and differentiate between different mono- and poly-saccharides in the following videos.

Alpha-carbon chemistry

5D: Aldol condensations are one of the most important, frequently seen reactions in biochemistry. In fact, the very first reaction of the Krebs (TCA) cycle is an aldol condensation in which acetyl CoA condenses with oxaloacetate, forming citrate. You will learn the mechanism of these reactions formed as we extend this concept to predict the products of aldol condensations.

Alcohols and phenols

5D: If you’ve ever walked through the wards of a hospital, you’ve probably noticed dozens of alcohol-based hand sanitizer dispensers, which quickly clean the hands of healthcare workers between seeing patients. Alcohols serve many other functions. You will gain a strong understanding of the nomenclature, properties and reactions of alcohols and phenols, along with the criteria for determining aromaticity in heterocyles. By the way, if you’re wondering where the term “aromaticity” comes from, many of the earliest aromatic compounds, like benzene and toluene, were noted to have pleasant odors, and the name for this structural class has stuck ever since.

Carboxylic acid derivatives

5D: As the name would suggest, carboxylic acid derivatives are quite similar to carboxylic acids in their structure and function. If you’ve ever used soap to wash your hand, you have experienced firsthand (pun intended!) the lavatory effects of an ester, one of the many classes of carboxylic acid derivatives. In this tutorial, we will discuss the important nomenclature, properties, and reactions of carboxylic acids.


5D - The multitude of reactions within our cells are sped up by enzymes. Without these biomolecules, these biochemical pathways would be as slow as a turtle. For instance, without enzymes, your body may never be able to break down and absorb the hamburger you just had for lunch. The hamburger would simply sit there, a lump in your stomach, until reactions slowly started to happen on their own - enzymes speed that up!


The bane of the pharmaceutical industry is that reactions don’t go from 100% reactants to 100% products. They end in equilibrium with each other. Learn how to calculate equilibrium constants and push reactions further towards products by watching these videos!


Wouldn’t it be terrifying if our clothes, food, and houses spontaneously combusted? Molecular bonds store tremendous amounts of energy, but generally are very stable. In order to release the energy, you have to add more first - like applying a match to a firework. These videos will overview standard enthalpy, entropy, and how to find out if a reaction is spontaneous.