tips

The Most Important Question To Ask When Learning a New Reaction

The Most Important Question To Ask When Learning a New Reaction

August 29, 2011

About a month or so ago I had a big revelation as an instructor. Something that I’d been taking for granted, that was right under my nose. I was spending so much time focusing on the why and how of chemical reac…

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Instructor’s “kludges” of organic chemistry

Instructor’s “kludges” of organic chemistry

August 22, 2011

A kludge, as commonly defined, is a workaround – an inelegant,  quick and dirty solution to a problem. When I’m teaching a reaction or a new concept to students, I’m focused on getting them to under…

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Draw The Ugly Version First

Draw The Ugly Version First

May 31, 2011

When figuring out what the product of a reaction is, there are really two important steps. 1. Figuring out where the electrons go. 2. Drawing the product. I’d say at least 70-80% of the difficulty students have …

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The World’s Cheapest Molecular Model Kit

The World’s Cheapest Molecular Model Kit

February 11, 2011

I see a lot of students who have trouble visualizing how molecules appear from different directions.  Probably the best way to solve this problem is to buy and practice with a model kit, which really helps to make st…

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Putting Diels-Alder Products in Perspective

Putting Diels-Alder Products in Perspective

January 27, 2011

One of the things I like about teaching is that it helps me realize some of the things I take for granted that newcomers find difficult. The other night I got this question. How do you know to draw the Diels Alder pro…

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The Single Swap Rule

The Single Swap Rule

January 24, 2011

I don’t think there are that many “tricks” to doing well in organic chemistry, but there are a few. I was kind of surprised last month when I talked to a number of students who hadn’t ever come…

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A simple trick: The (R)-(S) Toggle

A simple trick: The (R)-(S) Toggle

March 13, 2010

Instead of redrawing the whole molecule, just leave the hydrogen (or other 4th ranked substituent) in front and figure out whether the substituents ranked 1,2, and 3 go clockwise or counterclockwise. Then toggle (i.…

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