Year 11 have been embarking on an exciting journey into the world of organic chemistry. I know what you might be thinking, “Organic chemistry? Isn’t that something only for lab-coated scientists?” Well, not quite! Organic chemistry is all around us and understanding it can unlock the secrets behind everything, from your favourite snacks to the fragrances you wear. So, let’s roll up our sleeves (figuratively, of course) and explore this fascinating branch of science!
What is Organic Chemistry?
First things first, what is organic chemistry and why is it so cool? Organic chemistry is the study of carbon-containing compounds. Carbon, the superstar of this show, has the amazing ability to form a wide variety of molecules, making it the cornerstone of life as we know it. It’s in your DNA, the food you eat, the clothes you wear and even the device you’re reading this on!
In the world of organic chemistry, it’s all about the bonds. Carbon forms four strong bonds, allowing it to connect to other atoms in unique ways. These bonds can be single, double, or even triple, leading to a vast array of different molecules with diverse properties. Ever wondered why diamonds are hard and shiny, while pencil lead (also carbon) is soft and dark? It’s all about the bonds!
Functional Groups: The Superheroes of Organic Chemistry
Meet the functional groups! These are the special parts of organic molecules that give them their distinctive properties and functions. Think of them as the superheroes in the organic chemistry universe. For example, the hydroxyl group (OH) makes alcohols, the carbonyl group (C=O) is present in carboxylic acids and the amino group (NH2) is found in amino acids. Each of these functional groups adds a unique twist to the molecule’s behaviour.
Now that we’ve got a grasp on the basics, you might be wondering, “Why does organic chemistry matter in my life?” Well, it’s everywhere! From understanding the ingredients in your favourite snacks to the development of life-saving drugs, organic chemistry plays a critical role. It even helps solve environmental challenges by developing sustainable materials and fuels.
Year 11 have been drawing these molecules and using moly mods to visualise all the different types of organic molecules that we have. We even spent some time making ethyl ethanoate – and ester which gives pear drops their distinctive smell! Can anybody name the following organic molecules?