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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.
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