Jensenman SuperDork
April 21, 2010 7:53 p.m.

The kiddo is learning this in school. I'm not a complete math or science goober but it's been AGES since I did any of this, making it sorta tough to help her. I can find tons of sites with calculators but that is simply a shortcut to the answer, it doesn't teach how to do it on paper. (Yes, I know that is impossibly old fashioned but that's what they want her to learn. And I agree.) What I really need is a PDF or similar showing the steps in easy to understand terms (for both of us). Anybody out there able to point me in the right direction?

paul Reader
April 21, 2010 8:17 p.m.

Jensenman SuperDork
April 21, 2010 8:49 p.m.

The page is a big help! Thanks!

Dr. Hess SuperDork
April 22, 2010 9:22 a.m.

That skyweb looks like a good tutorial. The important thing to remember is that the number of each atom has to match on each side of the equation. Sometimes you have to multiply both sides by some integer to get whole numbers. It is really no harder than that. Freshman chemistry seems to put a lot of emphasis on balancing equations and keeping it complicated.

C + O2 -> CO2

Balanced. 1 C on each side, two O's on each side.

C + O2 -> CO

Not balanced, 1 C on both sides, but two O's on the left, one on the right.

2C + O2 -> 2CO


Jensenman SuperDork
April 22, 2010 10:30 a.m.

The biggest problem she and I were having was when you start with an even number of, say, O on the left side and you wind up with an odd number of O on the right. Since you don't want a nuclear explosion through the annihilation of mass you can't just ignore that. That meant trying a lot of different numbers which was getting a bit ridiculous, the skyweb showed a shortcut by using 2 1/2 to fix that first, then multiply EVERYTHING by 2 to get rid of the 1/2.

Dr. Hess SuperDork
April 22, 2010 11:05 a.m.

At TAMU, the bad part was then answering the test question:

  1. Balance this equation:

_C + _O2 -> _CO

The sum of the coefficients on both side of the equation multiplied by 7 divided by the square root of 3 times the number of seconds in daylight on an average August 17th divided by 4*10^3.2 is:

A. 12 B. 17 C. 3 D. 1065 E. None of the above. F. More than one of the above are correct.

Luke SuperDork
April 23, 2010 1:08 a.m.

Sounds like you may have already found the help you need, but just in case...I'm taking an introductory chemistry unit this semester. My text book is available as a series of PDF's on the University website. If you'd like, I can email you the 'balancing equations' section, (or anything else for that matter.)

pete240z Dork
April 23, 2010 7:29 a.m.

my kid is in college level organic chemistry this semester and not loving it. I would ask him but he has a big test today.

Dr. Hess SuperDork
April 23, 2010 8:32 a.m.

Here's Organic Chemistry:

Blue pidgeons make orange strawberries by cleaving off part of a billboard when in the presence of cheap beer.

Green brake rotors, when mixed with parts of a billboard with pomegranite cool-aide present, combine to make office chairs.

Office chairs and concrete, with heat added and in the presence of sugar free Dr. Pepper, make tripple layer nachos.

Test question:

Starting with blue pidgeons, draw out the synthethis for tripple layer nachos.

Undergraduate organic chemistry is exactly that useful. The only really useful thing in the entire wasted year is that afterwards you can look at a chemical name and say, hey, I could draw that. It has virtually zero usefullness in becoming a physician or practicing medicine. It is there strictly to convince young people they don't want to be a doctor.

Jensenman SuperDork
April 23, 2010 10:43 a.m.

The kid and I have come to the conclusion that by trying to help Dad is merely muddying the waters. So she has some quality time set up with her science teacher to get the straight scoop.

SkinnyG Reader
April 23, 2010 9:44 p.m.

I've always learned a ton by reading the danged textbook.

Jensenman SuperDork
April 24, 2010 11:18 a.m.

The killer about that: it's not in her book.

Apexcarver SuperDork
April 24, 2010 11:23 a.m.

I would think about going and buying another (better) book for private use. I have 2-3 Chem texts in my textbook stockpile (I never get rid of or pass up a deal on a science/physics/engineering/math text)

Dr. Hess SuperDork
April 24, 2010 11:50 a.m.

Medical school has 2 years of "book learnin'" and 2 years of clinical stuff. The top student in my class at the end of the 2 years of book learnin' would read the regular text books, and he would buy or check out "little books" on the various subjects. These "little books" were generally small, sometimes old, usually used and always covered only one subject, like the kidney, for example.

JM, some Tinkertoys (do they still have those?) will go a long way to helping figger out chemistry.

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