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Chemistry Department
Lab instructor teaching a student

Plebe Chemistry

Message from Department Chair:

Welcome to the USNA Plebe Chemistry Website. Here you will find vital information to help you succeed in SC111 and SC112 (usual 2 semester sequence) or SC151(course for one-semester validators).

Chemistry Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Apply the language and fundamental principles of chemistry (atomic/molecular theory, thermodynamics, and kinetics) to explain natural phenomena and to solve problems involving chemical processes.
  2. Collect and critically analyze data sets derived from scientific observations and measurements.
  3. Communicate in written form the process of problem-solving and results/conclusions derived from experimental results using evidence-based reasoning.
  4. Describe how chemistry is essential to issues facing society (such as energy and the environment) and Naval technology (such as explosives, nuclear power, corrosion prevention, submarine air).

Rumor Control

You may have heard many rumors about plebe chemistry; here are the facts! Plebe chemistry is the same two-semester chemistry sequence taught at hundreds of colleges and universities around the country (check the preface of your textbook) except for our unique use of naval applications (explosives, life support, fuels and lubricants, chemical and biological warfare, water treatment, nuclear chemistry, corrosion, etc.) to illustrate underlying chemical principles. Plebe chemistry is a demanding course due to the conceptual nature of the content, the brisk pace, the vertical structure of the curriculum (understanding explosives requires that you understand stoichiometry, thermochemistry and gas laws) and other demands of plebe year. However, like thousands of midshipmen before you, YOU can excel in this course. Historically, > 95% of each plebe class passes each semester of plebe chemistry on their first attempt and the remaining 5% almost invariably pass on the second attempt.

Keys to Success


  1. Read the text and supplements and come to class / lab ready to participate in the learning process.
  2. Do your homework to understand the concepts behind the problems.  Think about the "big picture" not just the specific problem.
  3. Ask questions when you have them.  The longer you wait to resolve your questions, the further you will fall behind.  This is because STEM courses require an understanding of older material to assimilate newer material.
  4. Take advantage of all the resources you are provided;
    • The textbook and associated electronic resources such as online homework.
    • Seek help from your professor
    • The programs offered by the Center for Academic Excellence such as Supplemental Instruction, Tutoring, Midshipmen Group Study Program (MGSP), and many others.

You are all capable students and can succeed in plebe chemistry. Strive to become the most scientifically literate officer/citizen you can.  The issues you will deal with in the Navy and in civilian life increasingly demand an understanding of the basic science that governs our universe.

Prof. Judith A. Harrison
July 2021

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