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In VCE Chemistry students relate the structure of elements and compounds to their properties. They explore the significance of water and learn about organic compounds, which are important in sustaining life and are found in everyday necessities, such as fuels and plastics. Students also learn about the analytical techniques used today in forensic chemistry and to identify and quantify compounds found in mixtures and foods.

Unit 1     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.

Unit 2     What makes water such a unique chemical?

Water is the most widely used solvent on Earth. In this unit students explore the physical and chemical properties of water, the reactions that occur in water and various methods of water analysis.

Students examine the polar nature of a water molecule and the intermolecular forces between water molecules. They explore the relationship between these bonding forces and the physical and chemical properties of water. In this context students investigate solubility, concentration, pH and reactions in water including precipitation, acid-base and redox. Students are introduced to stoichiometry and to analytical techniques and instrumental procedures, and apply these to determine concentrations of different species in water samples, including chemical contaminants.

Unit 3     How can chemical processes be designed to optimize efficiency?

In Area of Study 1 students investigate the sources of energy including transformations and galvanic cells. Students also use the specific heat capacity of water and thermochemical equations to determine energy content of fuels. In Area of Study 2 students explore ways to optimise efficiency and percentage yield of chemical manufacturing processes.

Unit 4     How are organic compounds categorized, analysed and used?

In Area of Study 1 students learn to name and deduce the structure of organic compounds by interpreting data from various spectroscopic methods. In Area of Study 2 students explore the importance of food from a chemical perspective. In Area of Study 3 students design a practical investigation related to content from Unit 3 and/or Unit 4.

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