Organic Chemistry Simple & Easy for High School

Live, Online Class: High School Organic Chemistry

Organic Chemistry Simple & Easy for High School is a live online class.

Overview of Organic Chemistry Simple & Easy for High School

This live High School Organic Chemistry Simple & Easy online course is the world’s first online course about organic chemistry that is ideal for high school aged learners. It’s a fun and approachable introduction to topics usually first experienced in college, and you won’t need any math skills to succeed in our O Chem course.

Our Organic Chemistry, or O Chem for short, courses can be taken after about a half year of normal high school level chemistry. You’ll need a bit of background about the periodic table and bonding before taking O Chem. Keep in mind that O Chem used to only be offered to college students having an entire year of college level chemistry courses taken as background. Our High School Organic Chemistry Basics Course Online is a great option for high schoolers and looking for advanced chemistry homeschool classes on the level with an Honors Chemistry or AP Chemistry course. 

Is Organic Chemistry Hard?

We hear this question a lot: Is Organic Chemistry hard?

Well, if you’re not prepared, then indeed it is. Unfortunately most students never encouter O Chem in high school, and it takes them by surprise about the second or third year of college. Ouch, O Chem, surprsises! That’s no fun.

Over the past couple decades, most high school chemistry textbooks have included a cursory chapter about organic chemistry. And there’s even some O Chem mixed into high school biology classes as well, sometimes masquerading as “biochemistry” topics. Treating organic chemistry as a side matter of minor importance in high school isn’t helping the perception that organic chemistry is hard in college.

So why the delay? Why isn’t O Chem introduced earlier? Here’s the explanation from a former college prof that you won’t find elsewhere. The problem is that mastering organic chemistry requires three dimensional thinking. To set the stage, first understand that middle school math and science is essentially one-dimensional, high school math and science is two-dimensional, and not until the college level will math and science classes move toward three dimensional analyses. High schoolers just aren’t equipped with the tools they need for three dimensional analyses, and so the traditional logic has been to disallow high schoolers from taking O Chem. This works out fine for high schoolers, yet leads to some nasty surprises later in college for those who want to be doctors, nurses, health care professionals, chemists, engineers, or scientists.

The novel approach for our Organic Chemistry Simple & Easy course is to focus on the two dimensional aspects of organic chemistry, the stuff that normal high school or homeschool students can easily handle. The course simply won’t delve into the intricate, three dimensional special cases that college professors obsess about. Honestly, as a former college chemistry professor, all these three-dimensional details in a college level O Chem class are just confusing most of the students anyhow. Furthermore, there’s easily an entire year’s worth of high school material related to the two dimensional aspects of O Chem. And that’s what this course it about.

How To Compare AP Chemistry vs High School Organic Chemistry?

Another question we hear a lot is whether our Organic Chemistry Simple & Easy class is similar to AP Organic Chemistry.

First thing, there is no such thing as AP Organic Chemistry. The College Board doesn’t want it. The logic is that most high schoolers don’t go on to take organic chemistry in college, so there shouldn’t be an AP Organic Chemistry course. At this point, the organic chemistry topics are presumably split into other classes such as AP Chemistry and AP biology.

There is a such thing as an official AP Chemistry course, approved by the College Board to cover college-level General Chemistry topics in high school. High schoolers typically take it as a second year of (advanced) chemistry for depth in the subject. The problem here is that students and parents think that AP Chemistry is going to cover new topics that weren’t covered in a normal or even Honors chemistry class. Nope. The AP Chemistry class is the same old topics covered in the normal chemistry class. There’s just a big focus on using annoying math problems to catch cheaters. But you won’t fundamentally learn anything new in AP Chemistry. It’s just intentionally made harder than regular chemistry for the sake of being hard. Ouch!

We made this Organic Chemistry Simple & Easy high school course to fill in all these gaps. The high school students who learn with us want some fresh material for a second year of chemistry, not a harder version of the same old material. And we know from experience that our organic chemistry for high school program works, as our students are consistently more prepared for college than those scoring a 4 or 5 on an AP exam. Being prepared for college is what matters. AP scores, in the long run, just really don’t matter.

Organic Chemistry Definition

We define organic chemistry as the chemistry related to life, as living things contain organic compounds. 

Another way to define organic chemistry is the study of carbon containing molecules, as all living things have lots of carbon atoms. Living things mostly contain the elements carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, often called by the acronym CHON in a science class. So we could also define organic chemistry as the study of CHON.

There’s a whole second category of O Chem, however. Not all organic molecules come from an organism that is alive today. Some were alive millions of years ago. An example is algae, made of CHON, that lived a million years ago. The oxygen and nitrogen are released, and only the carbon and hydrogen remain, forming substances known as hydrocarbons. Another word for hydrocarbons is petrochemicals, so we could also define organic chemistry as the study of petrochemicals. The oddity here is that petrochemicals are certainly not alive, and are usually labeled as deleterious to human health. Nonetheless, the typical organic chemistry course will start with analyzing petrochemicals, because they are a bit more simple and easy to understand as compared to the chemicals inside living things.


Topics for the High School Organic Chemistry Basics Course Online

The first part of the high school level organic chemistry course is about the structure and function of organic molecules. We will focus on learning the functional groups in organic chemistry, such as alcohols, and also organic chemistry nomenclature. There are 9 organic chemistry worksheet pdfs to go along with the 9 live lessons.

Lesson 1: Alkanes
We learn about alkanes, hydrocarbons with all single bonds. We draw Lewis structures, skeletons, and 3D diagrams.

Lesson 2: Alkenes
We learn about alkenes, hydrocarbons with one or more double bonds. We draw Lewis structures, skeletons, and 3D diagrams.

Lesson 3: cis and trans alkenes
We learn about cis and trans isomers, and learn to think in 3D about molecules.

Lesson 4: Cyclic Hydrocarbons
We learn about carbon rings.

Lesson 5: Alcohols, Aldehydes & Acids
We learn about compounds with carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, including alcohols, aldehydes, and organic (carboxylic) acids.

Lesson 6: Amines & Amino Acids
We learn about compounds with nitrogen, such as amino acids.

Lesson 7: Chiral Carbon & Sugars
We learn to draw simple sugar molecules. We learn to identify chiral carbons, also known as stereogenic centers.

Lesson 8: Hydration & Dehydration for Polymers
We learn about polymerization of large molecules linking into huge molecules, or polymers, such as starch, fiber, protein, oil, and fat. We discuss the reversible hydration and dehydration reactions for the polymers.

Lesson 9: Polymers in Food
We learn to read a food label from the perspective of organic chemistry. There’s a group project to bring and analyze a food label.


O Chem Part 2 Topics:

The second part of the high school level organic chemistry course is about organic chemistry reactions and reaction mechanisms. We will cover the basic types of organic reactions. There are 9 organic chemistry reactions worksheet pdfs to go along with the 9 live lessons.

Lesson 1: Review of Organic Molecules

Before we get into the basic types of organic reactions, we review the structure and function of organic molecules.

Lesson 2: SN2 Reactions

The first type of organic reaction covered is the SN2 reaction. The reaction mechanism involves a “backside attack.”

Lesson 3: SN2 and SN1 Reactions

SN1 is similar to SN2, and it’s the second type of organic reaction we cover.

Lesson 4: Grignard Reactions

Who would ever think to involve magnesium (Mg) in a O Chem reaction? His name was Grignard, and it won a Nobel prize. Synthesizing organic compounds would be possible without this type of organic reaction. 

Lesson 5: E2 Elimination reactions

Elimination reactions, such as the E2 reaction mechanism, form a double bond.

Lesson 6: E2 Zaitsev vs. Hoffman Products

Elimination reactions can happen a couple different ways, resulting in a couple different products, known as Zaitsev and Hoffman. We will distinguish between the products, and determine which is more stable.

Lesson 7: Intramolecular Reactions

Intramolecular reactions are also known as ring closing reaction. A chain links itself into a ring.

Lesson 8: Enolate Rearrangement

The enolate rearrangement is another type of intramolecular reaction. A classic rule of O Chem is that an “enol” doesn’t exist– we cannot have an alkene (double bond) next to an alcohol (-OH).

Lesson 9: Synthesis with Protecting Groups

The modern purpose of organic chemistry is to build molecules, much like building structures with LEGO blocks. If this sounds childish, you might note that even the illustrious technical mega-university MIT has a LEGO Chemistry program. The problem with real chemicals is that, like some LEGO blocks, they are fragile. Thus, we use protecting groups to protect fragile functional groups like alcohols when synthesizing chemicals. 

O Chem Part 3 Topics:

O Chem Part 3 is an optional summer enrichment course for those seriously interested to lean more about chemistry. We focus on the real world uses of organic compounds, with a focus on conducting research, reading research articles, analyzing organic chemistry studies, using organic chemistry databases, and technical writing, about organic chemicals, of course!

Lesson 1: Iodine

We will review how iodine is used in the medical field, focusing on modern iodine preparations designed to overcome the hazardous nature of using pure iodine in the human body.

Lesson 2: Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is produced by fermentations, such as making sauerkraut from cabbage using microbes. We will analyze fermentation process data.

Lesson 3: Chlorpyrifos

Chlopyrifos is a bad, bad chemical that was banned by the United States government for hurting people. What makes a chemical good or bad? And what science is used when chemical end up getting banned? We will learn how science is applied for the regulation of dangerous chemicals in the modern world.

Lesson 4: Lipids

We first saw lipids, otherwise known as fats and oils, back in the first part of the course. We’ll dig deeper and investigate organic chemistry databases of food lipid content.

Lesson 5: Amino Acids

We first saw amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, back in the first part of the course. We’ll dig deeper and investigate organic chemistry databases of food amino acid content.

Lesson 6: Neurotransmitters

We’ll explore the chemistry in your brain and how it connects to your body.

Lesson 7: Flavor Molecules

It’s a delicious lesson about what makes food taste good. Seconds?

Lesson 8: Plant Compounds

Plants have all sorts of useful organic compounds, and some harmful ones too. We will examine just a few select cases.

Lesson 9: Medicine Molecules

Much of organic chemistry is focused on synthesizing medicine molecules in the modern world. It started, however, with simple medicine molecules like aspirin and penicillin.

The Sequence of High School Organic Chemistry Courses Online

Our High School Organic Chemistry Basics Course Online is not a beginner level course. You’ll want to have at least half of year of normal, regular chemistry classes and labs/experiments at the high school level complete before embarking on your journey into O Chem. If you’ve never studied chemistry in depth before, then you should get started with our beginner level course and labs.

Our High School Organic Chemistry Basics Course Online is broken into a sequence of 3 shorter parts that add up to about a school year of advanced chemistry at the high school level. Part 1 is about drawing big molecules, Part 2 is about how they react, and Part 3, for enrichment, is about common organic chemicals and their role in the modern world. Our series of 3 O Chem courses can serve as a second year of advanced chemistry classes. similar to taking an Honors Chemistry or AP Chemistry course after an initial year of chemistry classes.

High School O Chem Course Creator and Teacher

Hi, I’m Dr. Scott, a former college chemistry professor. I created the world’s first High School Organic Chemistry Basics Course Online to fill a gap of missing, important science information in the educational curriculum. Organic chemistry topics are starting to be introduced into high school biology, high school chemistry, high school environmental sciences, and many other STEM related courses as well. Because the educational system is slow to change, however, there hasn’t yet been a single class organizing the important organic chemistry topics for high schoolers. This series fills that gap.

Note that I created this class especially for high school level learners, although it would be an excellent review of the fundamentals if you’re struggling with a college-level course. If you’re looking for help with a college-level organic chemistry course, there’s other websites for that, such as Mastering Organic Chemistry. It’s a great website with great materials and great organization… but it’s just way over the heads of most high schoolers. That’s why I made this course.

Learning Outcomes

Learners completing our High School Organic Chemistry Basics Course Online will be able to:

Draw and name big molecules.
Understand structure-function relationships.
Know about polymers.
Systematically categorize chemicals.
Understand complex reaction sequences.
Apply the ideas to the chemicals around them including food, fuels, medicine, and more.
Read “between the lines” in a food label like a scientist.
Confidently approach advanced, modern science topics.

Should I Take O Chem Now?

This O Chem course is ideal for:

Anybody with some previous “regular” chemistry experience.
High school students looking for an advanced chemistry course aside from Honors Chemistry or AP Chemistry.
Homeschoolers looking for a novel homeschool organic chemistry program.
Younger learners with an advanced interest in science.
College students struggling with Organic Chemistry.
Adults looking for a science education.
Teachers seeking a fresh perspective on modern chemistry for high school.