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Ch 2: Characteristics & Chemicals of Life

About This Chapter

Watch these video lessons about the characteristics and chemicals of life, including the chemical elements needed by all living organisms to survive and thrive.

Characteristics and Chemicals of Life - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

Living organisms have very specific needs for carrying out life functions. Learn more about the chemicals necessary for these processes in this series of video lessons. Find out more about atoms, elements, and chemical bonds. See how the periodic table is set up, and get practice writing chemical equations. At the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Describe states of matter and their characteristics
  • Describe the structure and function of the parts of an atom
  • Explain the arrangement of the periodic table and the definition of an element
  • Describe the process of combining elements
  • Write balanced chemical equations

Video Objective
Living Organisms: Defining Characteristics and Basic Needs Summarize traits specific to living organisms, and outline what's necessary for them to sustain life.
Matter: Physical and Chemical Properties Describe the difference between matter's chemical and physical characteristics; discuss what kind of changes can take place within each type of characteristic.
States of Matter: Solids, Liquids, Gases, and Plasma Name the qualities of each state of matter.
The Atom Identify the parts of the atom; describe their locations within the atom, and explain changes that each part may experience.
The Electron Shell Define the electron shell, and discuss how it relates to the atom.
Atomic Number and Mass Number Define atomic number and mass number, and describe how they relate to atoms.
What Are Elements? Define an element, and describe its role as a building block of living things.
Isotopes and Average Atomic Mass Explain how isotopic elements form.
Why Don't Noble Gases Bond? Explain why these gases don't bond.
The Periodic Table: Properties of Groups and Periods Describe the arrangement of the periodic table; identify the usefulness of groups and periods.
Understanding the Relationships between Elements, Molecules, and Compounds Describe how compounds and molecules are made up of elements.
The Process of Combining Elements: Compounds, Mixtures, and Solutions Describe the process used to combine elements.
Chemical Bonds: Ionic vs. Covalent Compare and contrast these two types of chemical bonds.
How to Write Chemical Reactions and Balance Atoms Demonstrate how to write chemical reactions, with special attention paid to the practice of balancing atoms.

14 Lessons in Chapter 2: Characteristics & Chemicals of Life
The Defining Characteristics of Living Organisms

1. The Defining Characteristics of Living Organisms

A house is not a living thing, but the people, animals, and plants living inside it are. So how do we define 'life'? Learn about seven characteristics that all living organisms have in common, no matter how different they may look on the outside.

Living Organisms: Basic Needs

2. Living Organisms: Basic Needs

There are many types of living organisms on Earth. But what makes us all the same is our basic needs for survival, which is a shorter list than you might think!

Matter: Physical and Chemical Properties

3. Matter: Physical and Chemical Properties

How are substances identified? There are two major ways we can describe a substance: physical properties and chemical properties. Learn about how chemists use properties to classify matter as either a mixture or a pure substance.

States of Matter: Solids, Liquids, Gases, & Plasma

4. States of Matter: Solids, Liquids, Gases, & Plasma

Learn the four states of matter in the universe: solid, liquid, gas and plasma. Learn about the differences in shape and volume among the four states, which of the states is the most common and why plasma conducts electricity.

The Atom

5. The Atom

Tune into this lesson to find out what matters about matter. What exactly is an atom? And, how do the atoms that make up the elements in the periodic table differ from one another?

The Electron Shell

6. The Electron Shell

You may be familiar with the role of electrons in electrical devices, but did you know that electrons also determine the chemical reactivity of everything around you?

Atomic Number and Mass Number

7. Atomic Number and Mass Number

Atoms are the basic building blocks of everything around you. In order to really understand how atoms combine to form molecules, it's necessary to be familiar with their structure. In this lesson, we'll dissect atoms so we can see just what really goes into those little building blocks of matter.

What Are Elements?

8. What Are Elements?

Look around you. What do you see? Elements are everywhere. They are the building blocks of all matter on Earth. In this lesson, we will discuss what an element is, how elements are written as symbols, and how elements are the building blocks of all matter.

Isotopes and Average Atomic Mass

9. Isotopes and Average Atomic Mass

When you drink a glass of water, you are actually drinking a combination of heavy water and light water. What's the difference? Is it harmful? This video will explain the difference between the two types of water and go into detail on the significance of the different isotopes of elements.

Why Don't Noble Gases Bond?

10. Why Don't Noble Gases Bond?

Noble gases are a unique set of elements in the periodic table, because they don't naturally bond with other elements. In this video lesson, we'll explore why these special gases prefer to go it alone and where you might find them.

The Periodic Table: Properties of Groups and Periods

11. The Periodic Table: Properties of Groups and Periods

How is the periodic table like the map you used on your last road trip? In this lesson, you will be introduced to the periodic table, the road map of chemists. We will discuss how the elements are organized and how you can use this organization to identify some of their major physical properties.

Understanding the Relationships between Elements, Molecules & Compounds

12. Understanding the Relationships between Elements, Molecules & Compounds

Everything on Earth is made of atoms, and sometimes they combine to form new groups of atoms. The sky is the limit when it comes to these combinations, which account for the vast number of things we find in our natural world.

Chemical Bonds: Ionic vs. Covalent

13. Chemical Bonds: Ionic vs. Covalent

Atoms make up everything on Earth, and chemical bonds are what hold those atoms together. In this lesson, we'll discuss two very important types of chemical bonds, covalent and ionic.

Writing Balanced Chemical Reactions

14. Writing Balanced Chemical Reactions

Chemical reactions are occurring around us all the time. We express these reactions in chemical equations, which must be balanced, meaning that while both sides may not have the same arrangement of atoms, they will have the same number and type.

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