Chemistry: Atoms First - 2e (OpenStax)

August 20, 2019 | Updated: January 4, 2021
Author: Paul Flowers, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Edward J. Neth, University of Connecticut, William R. Robinson, PhD, Klaus Theopold, University of Delaware, et al.

The intention of “atoms-first” involves a few basic principles: first, it introduces atomic and molecular structure much earlier than the traditional approach, and it threads these themes through subsequent chapters. This approach may be chosen as a way to delay the introduction of material such as stoichiometry that students traditionally find abstract and difficult, thereby allowing students time to acclimate their study skills to chemistry. Additionally, it gives students a basis for understanding the application of quantitative principles to the chemistry that underlies the entire course. It also aims to center the study of chemistry on the atomic foundation that many will expand upon in a later course covering organic chemistry, easing that transition when the time arrives. The second edition has been revised to incorporate clearer, more current, and more dynamic explanations, while maintaining the same organization as the first edition. Substantial improvements have been made in the figures, illustrations, and example exercises that support the text narrative.

Subject Areas
Biological/Physical Sciences, Chemistry

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Chemistry: Atoms First - 2e (OpenStax) by Paul Flowers, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Edward J. Neth, University of Connecticut, William R. Robinson, PhD, Klaus Theopold, University of Delaware, et al. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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Reviews (1) Avg: 4 / 5

Brenda Addison-Jones

Institution:Douglas CollegeTitle/Position: Chemistry InstructorCreative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

Index and glossary are good.
All topics required for Chem. 1210 are covered.
Topics for Chem. 1110 are covered with the exception of more detail needed for Organic Chemistry, namely organic reactions (particularly SN1 and SN2, ring flipping, conformation of cyclohexane. This commonly occurs in other 1st year texts, as our Chem. 1110 is unusually detailed in Organic Chemistry. We would consider supplementing with other materials.

Diagrams have been improved over 1st edition.
Background information on the development of atomic theory was clear and well presented. Bohr equation especially.

Current examples very useful

Worked problems helpful. Noted appendices and solutions are at the end of the second volume. A bit hefty to carry both around.

Some topics, such as stoichiometry, are oddly out of place as we teach this at the beginning, but we could of course handle this.

We do not require the inorganic content, not chemistry of each element, nor nuclear. Doesn't hurt for them to be there for those who are interested

Section 12.3 Entropy More examples needed. Note that deltaS sys at a phase change is -deltaH/T. The text uses -qrev but doesn't relate this to deltaH

Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

Problems I have checked are error free. Equations well explained. Nice diagram of electron configurations across periodic table, and trends
No periodic table inside front cover. Need to use latest IUPAC version for consistency on atomic mass data. Sig. figs. looked fine.

Definition of the Mole: Since IUPAC changed the definition of the gram, the old definition of the mole does not strictly hold, p. 94
While there is little difference, this should be pointed out. I mention that strictly there are no longer exactly 12 g in 1 mole of C-12.
Perhaps at least this could be added in a footnote in order to be current.

Without a periodic table int he front cover I am unsure which atomic masses are being used. p. 83 uses the old H atomic mass, 1.0078amu. We have switched to the new IUPAC periodic table, which has some average atomic masses changed due to the new distribution of isotopes across the world. H is therefore now just averaged to 1.008. I think for consistency with other references, updating to the latest IUPAC periodic table data would be advised. Several common element average masses have therefore changed.

Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

Specifin areas of research noted, such as fullerene chemistry, will stand over time.
When giving examples of technology, electric cars for instance, one cannot predict the future. I believe content could be easily modified to reflect updates.

Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

I agree. Concepts are explained in more depth than the first edition, which seemed more of a "Coles Notes" version of chemistry.
This text is more interesting and generally useful to first year university transfer students.

Clarity Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

Yes, see comments in next question

Consistency Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

Yes very important to our course. We do not teach topics in the same order as the text, so chapters must stand alone. Students who are learning on-line must rely heavily on the organization of individual units in the course. Often they are working at a different pace than the lecture material is being delivered. In COVID times, this is especially important.
Out students, at a college level, often are working 20 hours/week and need to be practical about their learning. Few are headed for a major in Chemistry, while those who are more interested, need to be stimulated.
I would feel at ease with rearranging the chapters as needed for our 1110 and 1210

The hardcopy consists of 2 large soft cover books. These would be awkward to bring to class, and they look fragile in terms of binding. At lest, book 1 should end at the end of a chapter, not in the middle.

Modularity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

As noted we would not be teaching topics in the same order as the text, but that should not be a problem
Personally I like the atoms first approach, as represented by Atomic Structure and theory being early in chapters 2 and 3. We also teach it right after our first week of review in 1110
In our first week, we review stoichiometry, so I was surprised to see it in chapter 7. That seems out of place to me.
We would prefer Organic to be moved forward of the Inorganic and Nuclear sections, but this is not crucial.
Also good to have all equilibrium topics in one segment of the text.

Organization Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

I have reviewed using the hardcopy.
Ensure that students who have e-text access can simultaneously access the appendices, glossary, and index. I had this issue with another e-text. To access data needed from the appendices, students needed to log out of the e-text, and login to another area. Had many comments about this.
Found the figures to be clear, and an improvement over the first edition.

There is an awkward break between book 1 and book 2, p. 670 - 671, this is the middle of a question about entropy. I would end book one at the end of a chapter.

Interface Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

I cannot verify that there are NO grammar or spelling errors. I have reviewed several pages of each chapter for spelling:
p 229 Terminology rather than grammar
Electron pair geometry is also called electron pair configuration in some texts. To be distinguished from molecular shape.

Impressed that I found no spelling errors in the pages I reviewed.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

I noted both male and female scientists were represented. I noticed the content was not biased toward only American technology and innovation. European examples were given.
Other areas noted in this question do not seem relevant to chemistry.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

I would recommend this book. My only reservation is the following:

We need to assign many homework problems, with randomized options for each student to prevent cheating as much as possible. The number of problems given at the back of each chapter would not be sufficient. This however is common to all Opensource texts I have reviewed. To satisfy our needs, we would combine the text with an on-line homework system, which would likely come at cost.
I noted that for a short period Chem. 101 was offered for free if one adopted an OpenStax text. This offer has expired, but Chem 101 could still be purchased at a reasonable price to the students. From what I have seen, it combines well and questions in Chem 101 would not confuse students compared to the way the topics are explained in the text.
Regardless, our current text which comes at cost, also requires a separate on-line homework system, at cost. Some instructors in our Dept. have chosen to make this optional. However I feel it is very valuable, and access to such a system also gives instructor access to a test bank, plus additional resources for students such as tutorials which they really appreciate in video format.
It might be prudent for you to team up, or to recommend a homework system that combines well with this text.