Timeline VCE

Chemistry Unit 1 (2016-2022) (no longer current)
How can the diversity of materials be explained?


The development and use of materials for specific purposes is an important human endeavour. In this unit students investigate the chemical properties of a range of materials from metals and salts to polymers and nanomaterials. Using their knowledge of elements and atomic structure students explore and explain the relationships between properties, structure and bonding forces within and between particles that vary in size from the visible, through nanoparticles, to molecules and atoms. Students examine the modification of metals, assess the factors that affect the formation of ionic crystals and investigate a range of non-metallic substances from molecules to polymers and giant lattices and relate their structures to specific applications. Students are introduced to quantitative concepts in chemistry including the mole concept. They apply their knowledge to determine the relative masses of elements and the composition of substances. Throughout the unit students use chemistry terminology including symbols, formulas, chemical nomenclature and equations to represent and explain observations and data from experiments, and to discuss chemical phenomena. A research investigation is undertaken in Area of Study 3 related to one of ten options that draw upon and extend the content from Area of Study 1 and/or Area of Study 2.


How can knowledge of elements explain the properties of matter?In this area of study students focus on the nature of chemical elements, their atomic structure and their place in the periodic table. They review how the model of the atom has changed over time and consider how spectral
evidence led to the Bohr model and subsequently to the Schrödinger model. Students examine the periodic table as a unifying framework into which elements are placed based upon similarities in their electronic configurations. In this context students explore patterns and trends of, and relationships between, elements with reference top roper ties of the elements including their chemical reactivity. Students investigate the nature of metals and their properties, including metallic nanomaterials. They investigate how a metal is extracted from its ore and how the properties of metals may be modified for a particular use. Students apply their knowledge of the electronic structures of metallic elements and non-metallic elements to examine ionic compounds. They study how ionic compounds are formed, explore their crystalline structures and investigate how
changing environmental conditions may change their properties. Fundamental quantitative aspects of chemistry are introduced including the mole concept, relative atomic mass,percentage abundance and composition by mass and the empirical formula of an ionic compound.

key knowledge
Topics and Lessons


(activities listed in no particular order)


Outcome 1
On completion of this unit the student should be able to relate the position of elements in the periodic table to their properties, investigate the structures and properties of metals and ionic compounds, and calculate mole quantities.

Elements and the periodic table
• the relative and absolute sizes of particles that are visible and invisible to the unaided eye: small and giant molecules and lattices; atoms and sub-atomic particles; nanoparticles and nanostructures
• the definition of an element with reference to atomic number; mass number; isotopic forms of an element using appropriate notation
• spectral evidence for the Bohr model and for its refinement as the Schrödinger model; electronic configurations of elements 1 to 36 using the Schrödinger model of the atom, including s, p, d and f notations (with copper and chromium exceptions)
• the periodic table as an organisational tool to identify patterns and trends in, and relationships between, the structures (including electronic configurations and atomic radii) and properties (including electronegativity, first ionisation energy, metallic/non-metallic character and reactivity) of elements.

Reactivity of metals

Introduce the concept of core charge before discussing trends in the periodic table.

Flame testing


• the common properties of metals (lustre, malleability, ductility, heat and electrical conductivity) with reference
to the nature of metallic bonding and the structure of metallic crystals, including limitations of representations;
general differences between properties of main group and transition group metals
experimental determination of the relative reactivity of metals with water, acids and oxygen
the extraction of a selected metal from its ore/s including relevant environmental, economic and social issues
associated with its extraction and use
experimental modification of a selected metal related to the use of coatings or heat treatment or alloy production
• properties and uses of metallic nanomaterials and their different nanoforms including comparison with the properties of their corresponding bulk materials.

Demonstration of an alloy.


Experiment -copper processing.

Extraction of copper from an ore.


Ionic compounds
• common properties of ionic compounds (brittleness, hardness, high melting point, difference in electrical
conductivity in solid and liquid states) with reference to their formation, nature of ionic bonding and crystal structure including limitations of representations
• experimental determination of the factors affecting crystal formation of ionic compounds
• the uses of common ionic compounds.

Revision 1 Solutions - ionic and metallic bonding and mole calculations.

Derive the chemical formula of ionic compounds given the valencies of ions and be able to name the compounds given their formula.


Students may like a more visual approach to deriving ionic formulae.

Naming ionic compounds




Precipitation experiment

  Quantifying atoms and compounds
• the relative isotopic masses of elements and their representation on the relative mass scale using the carbon-12 isotope as the standard; reason for the selection of carbon-12 as the standard
• determination of the relative atomic mass of an element using mass spectrometry (details of instrument not required)
• the mole concept; Avogadro constant; determination of the number of moles of atoms in a sample of known mass; calculation of the molar mass of ionic compounds
experimental determination of the empirical formula of an ionic compound.

Empirical formula
1 Solution Empirical formulae
Quiz 2 Solution Empirical formulae
Quiz 3 Solution Empirical formulae
Quiz 4 Solution Empirical to molecular formulae

Empirical formula test Solutions

Empirical formula of :
hydrated copper sulfate,
magnesium oxide

Calculating atomic radii.

  Area of Study 2
How can the versatility of non-metals be explained?
In this area of study students explore a wide range of substances and materials made from non-metals including molecular substances, covalent lattices, carbon nanomaterials, organic compounds and polymers. Students investigate the relationship between the electronic configurations of non-metallic atoms and the resultant structures and properties of a range of molecular substances and covalent lattices. They compare how the structures of these non-metallic substances are represented and analyse the limitations of these representations. Students study a variety of organic compounds and how they are grouped into distinct chemical families. They apply rules of systematic nomenclature to each of these chemical families. Students investigate useful materials that are made from non-metals, and relate their properties and uses to their structures. They explore the modification of polymers and the use of carbon-based nanoparticles for specific applications. Students apply quantitative concepts to molecular compounds, including mole concept and percentage composition by mass, and determine the empirical and molecular formulas of given compounds.
  Outcome 2
On completion of this unit the student should be able to investigate and explain the properties of carbon lattices and molecular substances with reference to their structures and bonding, use systematic nomenclature to name organic compounds, and explain how polymers can be designed for a purpose.

Materials from molecules
• representations of molecular substances (electron dot formulas, structural formulas, valence structures, balland- stick models, space-filling models) including limitations of representations
shapes of molecules and an explanation of their polar or non-polar character with reference to the electronegativities of their atoms and electron-pair repulsion theory
explanation of properties of molecular substances (including low melting point and boiling point, softness, and non-conduction of electricity) with reference to their structure, intramolecular bonding and intermolecular forces
• the relative strengths of bonds (covalent bonding, dispersion forces, dipole-dipole attraction and hydrogen bonding) and evidence and factors that determine bond strength including explanations for the floating of ice
and expansion of water at higher temperatures.

Predicting the shape of a molecule given its formula.


Symmetrical molecules

Asymmetrical molecules

Assignment on molecules Solutions

Worksheet 1 Solutions - molecular shape, intermolecular and intramolecular bonding.


Carbon lattices and carbon nanomaterials
• the structure and bonding of diamond and graphite that explain their properties (including heat and electrical
conductivity and hardness) and their suitability for diverse applications
• the structures, properties and applications of carbon nanomaterials including graphene and fullerenes.

  Organic compounds
• the origin of crude oil and its use as a source of hydrocarbon raw materials
• the grouping of hydrocarbon compounds into families (alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, alcohols, carboxylic acids and non-branched esters) based upon similarities in their physical and chemical properties including general formulas, their representations (structural formulas, condensed formulas, Lewis structures), naming according to IUPAC systematic nomenclature (limited to non-cyclic compounds up to C10, and structural isomers up to C7) and uses based upon properties
• determination of empirical and molecular formulas of organic compounds from percentage composition by mass and molar mass.

Quiz 1 Solutions Naming organic compounds

Test Solutions (Naming organic compounds, structural, semistructural formulae,esters)

Quiz 2 Solutions (determination of molecular formula from empricial formula)

• the formation of polymers from monomers including addition polymerisation of alkenes
• the distinction between linear (thermoplastic) and cross-linked (thermosetting) polymers with reference to structure, bonding and properties including capacity to be recycled
• the features of linear polymers designed for a particular purpose including the selection of a suitable monomer (structure and properties), chain length, degree of branching, percentage crystalline areas and addition of plasticisers
• the advantages and disadvantages of the use of polymer materials.



Making of thermosetting plastic.

Revision Unit 1(a) Solution

Revision Unit 1(b) Solution

Revision Unit 1(c) Solution

Revision Unit 1(d) Solution

  Area of Study 3
Research investigation
Knowledge of the origin, structure and properties of matter has built up over time through scientific and technological research, including medical research, space research and research into alternative energy resources. As a result, patterns and relationships in structures and properties of substances have been identified, applied and modified, and a vast range of useful materials and chemicals has been produced. This research and development is ongoing and new discoveries are being made at an accelerating rate. In this area of study students apply and extend their knowledge and skills developed in Area of Study 1 and/or Area of Study 2 to investigate a selected question related to materials. They apply critical and creative thinking skills, science inquiry skills and communication skills to conduct and present the findings of an independent investigation into one aspect of the discoveries and research that have underpinned the development, use and modification of useful materials or chemicals. Students undertake a research investigation relevant to one of the following ten options. A question from the list under each option may be selected or students may develop their own research question relevant to Area of Study 1 and/or Area of Study 2 in conjunction with their teacher. For the selected question, students outline, analyse and evaluate relevant evidence to support their conclusions.

Option 1: The origin of the elements

Option 2: The development of the periodic table

Option 3: The lanthanoids and actinoids

Option 4: Using light to solve chemical puzzles

Option 5: Glass

Option 6: Crude oil

Option 7: Surfactants

Option 8: Polymers and composite materials

Option 9: Nanomaterials

Option 10: The life cycle of a selected material or chemical