Chemistry is the scientific discipline that focuses on the study of matter, its properties, composition, structure, and the changes it undergoes during chemical reactions.
Chemistry is like a mystery that students have to unfold, especially in Secondary school. It is considered a very important course for students as all around us, we witness chemical reactions and things composed of atoms and molecules.
Hence, understanding Chemistry as a course is very important. However, this is not easy for students as Chemistry is quite difficult, bulky, technical, advanced, and considered to be of an abstract nature consisting of numerous chemical concepts which makes understanding Chemistry a bit tough.
What Chemistry is All About
Chemistry is regarded as the branch of science which deals with the composition, structure, and properties of substances, the transformation that these substances undergo, and the energy which they release or absorb during this process.
Chemistry may better be defined as the scientific study of the structure of substances, how they react when combined or in contact with one another, and how they behave under different conditions.
All in all, Chemistry is the scientific branch which deals with the study of the composition, physical and chemical properties of various forms of matter.
Major Branches of Chemistry
1. Organic Chemistry: This is the study of the properties, structure, and composition of substances that contain carbon.
2. Inorganic Chemistry: It is the study of the behavior, property, and structure of inorganic substances such as Metals and Minerals.
3. Physical Chemistry: This deals with the Physical nature of Chemical compounds and their uses to develop personal care products, plastics, et cetera.
4. Analytical Chemistry: This branch of Chemistry involves the study of the composition and structure of man-made and natural materials.
5. Biochemistry: Biochemistry is the study of chemical processes within living beings.
Having now understood what Chemistry means and its branches, how then can we learn Chemistry?
How to Learn and Understand Chemistry
Chemistry is difficult as it appears at face value; however, it is easy if and when you learn it appropriately. You may learn Chemistry appropriately by:
1. Read Textbooks: This is the first and foremost way of learning chemistry. This is because a Chemistry textbook is the primary source of knowledge, hence reading such a textbook and understanding its contents will help you learn all concepts and things you need to know in Chemistry.
N/B: Reading a Chemistry textbook in this instance doesn’t imply reading just one textbook, but it implies reading and assimilating a variety of Chemistry textbooks.
2. Take online courses: Another effective way of learning Chemistry especially the advanced concepts in Chemistry; is through taking online courses on the various branches and concepts of Chemistry. This will aid your learning and understanding of Chemistry.
3. Attend Practicals: Oftentimes in Chemistry, there are Practicals. Attending these Practicals will help improve your knowledge of Chemistry, especially with regards to the combination of Chemical elements, Chemical properties of a matter, and the structure of substances, amongst others. So, therefore, to improve your learning, you need to attend Chemistry and its branch-related practical.
4. Mind mapping: Mind Mapping can be defined as Writing down a Central theme and thinking of new related ideas which emanate from that central theme. For instance, writing down an element, and other elements which flow from the combination of that element with another, as in the case of a periodic table and as seen in Chemistry related practical.
Mind Mapping is a very effective way to learn Chemistry, this is because Mind mapping creates a strategic way in which you can cover the topic you are reading quickly as well as create a practical diagram of the elements in Chemistry from the center to its final chain of movement. This will therefore help you in understanding Chemical elements, their formation, and the periodic table.
5. Attend Classes: Attending Classes is probably the first basic step of learning chemistry. While I have talked about taking Online courses and reading textbooks, attending Chemistry classes in your school is even more important and effective in helping you to learn the course. This is because it will take a good teacher to help you learn and understand Chemistry, and in most good schools there are good teachers.
Thus, attending their classes will help you learn the Course, and will even give you room to ask questions when you are not understanding what is being taught or what you have read personally.
6. Take notes: In the instance of attending classes, one effective way to learn Chemistry is through Note taking. Note-taking will keep you focused in Class, help you get the key points of your teacher, as well as help you understand the topic such teacher is teaching.
On the other hand, in the instance of reading or learning yourself, Note Making is an effective way of learning Chemistry. Note making refers to when you make your own personal note while reading. This will help you put things in an understandable word and as such will improve your understanding of what you are reading.
7. Using Flashcards: A flashcard is a card that contains a small amount of information held up to aid learning. The use of Flashcard is an effective way of learning Chemistry. This is because Chemistry is full of scientific symbols, formulas, and elements and Flashcard are perfect for organizing and studying these symbols, elements, and formulas.
8. Study group: A study group is an efficient way to learn Chemistry. As the saying goes ‘Two heads are better than one. In a study group, where there are two or more heads rubbing minds together, each member of that study group will be able to understand conflicting Chemistry concepts and formulas.
9. Study to understand: Finally, to effectively learn Chemistry you should try to understand rather than memorize or better put Cram Chemistry, as it only takes understanding to be outstanding in Chemistry. To perfectly understand Chemistry, you need to imbibe all these aforementioned learning techniques of chemistry. Doing so will undoubtedly help you understand Chemistry as a whole and each topic you are reading.
10. Study The Concepts Of Chemistry And Solve The Problems: You have to understand the fundamental concepts of chemistry which include: metric system, the scientific method, atomic structure and chemical nomenclature. The reason why chemistry is difficult to many people is that they do not fully understand these fundamental concepts before trying to study more advanced subjects.
So, you have to work on lots of problems based on these fundamental concepts. Also, you should try to solve every problem in every chapter of your text. However, you can learn some of these fundamental concepts of chemistry through the websites of Universities that provide free learning materials. Again, you can find helpful guidebooks such as SparkNotes or the books of “For Dummies“, at your local bookstore. You have to write the concepts out by hand so as to remember them.
However, there are lots of new information to learn and memorize in chemistry (just as in other science subjects). In fact, there are new information you will be presented with as you begin to study chemistry. You will get bogged down quickly by them if you try to memorize all the details. So, you have to focus on gaining understanding of the fundamental concepts first. Once you have a sound understanding of them, you can spend time memorizing the details. Also, as you master the fundamentals of chemistry and gain understanding of the concepts, it will be easier to memorize everything else.