CHEMISTRY for Everyday Life

Dr. Terry L. Helser,  Professor of Chemistry
227 Physical Sciences Building, Oneonta, NY 13820-4015
Phone: (607)436-3518 or Email to:

This information may only apply when I, not Dr. Joseph Tausta , teach both lecture and lab sections of this course.

Just click on the highlighted text to see the course description, the schedules for Fall or Spring semester or information on the lab. You can also jump to the next extra credit puzzle or project, links to internet sites of interest or leave me a message. You should read the information on the cooperative format I use, or you can go back to my home page


This course is a "chemistry literacy" course designed for the non-science major. The basic concepts about matter, the elements, and their reactions are covered, but the emphasis is on how they apply to everyday life and the changes occurring there because of advances in the chemical sciences. Topics include the metric system, atoms, elements, bonding, water, molecules, polymers and the chemistry of living organisms. Weekly laboratory exercises include making salts, nylon, slime, and DNA, as well as observing chemical and physical reactions, measuring cans of juice, and studying reaction rates. Whenever possible topics of current interest are discussed.


Classrooom activities (2 hours a week) and laboratories (2 hours a week) are presented, with teamwork strongly encouraged. There are 3 hourly exams, extra credit puzzles and problem sets to evaluate the class. Weekly lab reports and a final practical exam evaluate the laboratory experience. A Library and internet research paper on a topic chosen by the student is required. Electronic mail (E-mail) and the Internet are used extensively.


A text, safety goggles and a quad ruled notebook are required. Students must obtain their usercode and password at a PC or terminal (Fitzelle 201 or IRC-120) to access E-mail. Copies of prior tests, student papers and handouts are available in Milne Library for perusal or reproduction.


This course, with no prerequisites, satisfies the laboratory science requirement for the Basic Curriculum (NL attribute) and may qualify for the TQ and CW attributes under thinking and communicating skills for the Liberal Arts: General Degree Requirements; see your advisor. It does not apply to any science major in liberal arts or the secondary science education curricula. You must attend 70% of the labs and pass the lab evaluations to pass the course.

Absence from the first class or laboratory session may result in dismissal from the course! Inform the instructor immediately if you have any problem attending. 

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Internet Resources

  • Links to most major search engines.
  • Lab Safety - MSDS lists and Contact Lenses
  • Search for properties and information on individual compounds
  • THE site for general lab procedures, but the videos take forever to load
  • and THE site for links to all types of chemical education resources
  • If that is not enough, try the Journal of Chemical Education reviews for more links
  • The Internet Science Room from an OK high school with lots of links to news, etc.
  • A UK site with free Computer Aided Instruction software to download
  • Aussie science news site called NOVA - interesting and current
  • Our own Dr. Pence has a page on chemistry careers, but it is useful for all job hunters
  • Information on Natural Polymers like cellulose, starch, etc.
  • A chemist's art gallery with tons of neat images

  • If you have questions or comments, write the:

      Author of this page: Terry Helser -
      Web Coordinator: Steve Maniscalco -
    Or return to the SUNY @ Oneonta Home Page to see where we live and work.
      Last Modified on 7/1/99