The Open University since 2006
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Life Story: ParenthoodMonday, 26th September 2016 23:00 - BBC FourSome parents are more closely involved than others. Read more: Life Story: Parenthood
Life Story: CourtshipAvailable until Sunday, 23rd October 2016 01:25Without Tinder to rely on, how do animals find the right mate? Read more: Life Story: Courtship
BBC Inside Science - 2016/2017 series: What's left to explore?Available for over a year
Scotland and The Battle for Britain: Episode 2Available until Friday, 21st October 2016 01:35
Life Story: PowerAvailable until Sunday, 16th October 2016 01:35
The BBC And The OU: Inspiring LearningTake a look back at some of the programmes, apps and online learning the BBC and Open University... Watch now: The BBC And The OU: Inspiring Learning
Take the photographic memory testCan you capture scenes just by looking at them? Find out with our photographic memory test. Launch now: Take the photographic memory test
The lottery of birthThis free course, The lottery of birth, will look at both the big picture of the ‘lottery of... Try: The lottery of birth now
English: skills for learningEnglish: skills for learning, is a free course for anybody who is thinking of studying for a... Try: English: skills for learning now
Atoms, elements and molecules are the building blocks of everything that makes up our world, including ourselves. In this free course, Water for life, you will learn the basic chemistry of how these components work together, starting with a chemical compound we are all very familiar with water.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- read data presented in tables
- use scientific notation to express both large and small quantities
- appreciate why chemists use different models to represent molecules
- identify the number and type(s) of atom present in a molecule from its chemical formula
- identify the reactants and products of a reaction in a chemical equation.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 The power of water
- 2 Earth's store of water
- 2.1 Where water occurs and how we measure it
- 2.2 Going up: using scientific notation for large numbers
- 2.3 The study of a raindrop
- 2.4 Going down: using scientific notation for small numbers
- 2.5 What is water made of?
- 2.6 Models of a water molecule
- 2.7 The 'salt' in seawater
- 3 What are compounds?
- 4 Inside the atom
- 5 Molecules and covalent bonding
- 6 Chemical language
- 7 Ions and ionic bonding
- 8 Water and its impurities
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Water for life
This course is an introduction to chemistry concepts, using water as the main illustration. Much of the course is devoted to exploring the smallest water particle - a water molecule - what it is and how it gives rise to the particular properties of water. The course also explains powers of ten and scientific notation, which are a convenient way of expressing both very large and very small numbers. It is a good introduction to science.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 1 study in
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Environmental Studies courses or view the range of currently available OU Environmental Studies courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Wednesday, 16th March 2016
Last updated on: Wednesday, 16th March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
- Word (3.9 MB)
- PDF (7.1 MB)
- ePub 3.0 (9 MB)
- ePub 2.0 (3.1 MB)
- Kindle (840 KB)
- RSS (455 KB)
- HTML (7.8 MB)
- SCORM (7.8 MB)
- OUXML Package (44 KB)
- OUXML File (162 KB)
- IMS Common cartridge
- Moodle backup (7.5 MB)
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.