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As we begin our study of organic chemistry, there will be a lot of review of things that you have probably learned already from your college or high school General Chemistry course, but there will likely be several concepts that are new to you as well. We will start off with the most basic concept in chemistry: the atom. We'll review some essential facts about the composition of an atom, and then remind ourselves about how electrons occupy 'orbitals' surrounding the nucleus. Then we will start talking about how atoms - particularly atoms of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, the most important elements in organic chemistry - share pairs of electrons to form covalent bonds. At first, this discussion will be conducted at the simplest possible level, as we review how to draw 'Lewis structures', assign 'formal charges', and recognize common organic bonding patterns. Later, we will bring in the 'valence bond' theory and the concept of 'hybrid orbitals' in order to help explain the observed three-dimensional geometry of organic structures.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1246120