• The Chemistry of Life

    The Chemistry of Life

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Learning Objectives

  1. Differentiate among atoms, ions, elements, molecules, and compounds.
  2. Discuss how atoms form chemical bonds.
  3. Distinguish between ionic and covalent bonds.
  4. Explain how the unique properties of water are necessary for life to exist.
  5. Describe the effects of buffers, acids, and bases in chemical solutions and living organisms.


Biology in Real Life

In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon off-shore oil platform exploded, spilling over 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Since oil floats, the animals most affected by the spill are seabirds that inhabit the surface and the shoreline. This CNN news video highlights the process used to clean the oil-soaked birds.

Video Focus Points

Look for answers to these questions when watching the video:

  • What common household product is used to remove oil from the birds?
  • Why is this product effective in cleaning the oil-soaked birds?




  1. Before continuing this lesson, please read the appropriate chapter in your textbook as directed in your course calendar.
  2. Complete the online lesson activities:
    • Atoms and Elements
    • Chemical Bonding
    • Molecules and Compounds
    • Water
    • pH and Buffers
    • Progress Check
  3. Complete Lab 2: Polar Bonding.
    • This lab is about the chemistry you need to know in order to understand living systems.
      • Make sure to plan ahead by reading the appropriate pages in your lab manual, reviewing the online lab materials, and watching the lab demonstration videos in advance.
      • This lab is estimated to take about 2 to 3 hours to set up and perform the experiments.
      • Allow additional time for completing and submitting your lab report as directed by your instructor.
    • Additionally, you need to gather the following items before you begin the lab:
      • distilled water;
      • 2 to 3 sheets of notebook paper;
      • a page of newspaper.

Additional Resources


International Bird Rescue
Learn how this organization has been saving oiled seabirds and other aquatic birds around the world since 1971.