Why Use Kickstarter?



When my grandparents were my age, most products were driven form the top down – large companies designed multiple products, tested them through various trials until they found something the public was willing to pay for, then produced it and sold it in stores.

I’m not a large company nor do I have lots of money to pay for every expense incurred in the process of bringing my game, Atomic Zero, to the market. I am just one small guy with one big dream! And Kickstarter is the place where small people like me go to turn big ideas into a reality.

Here’s how Kickstarter works

I have a big idea, so I create a page on Kickstarter.com that explains everything about my idea. Stuff like:

  • Why I think this idea is better than all the other dumb ideas I’ve had,
  • All the work I have already put into this project,
  • How I will design it, manufacture it, and deliver it,
  • Why I believe I am competent to complete this project,
  • How much money I need to make it work and,
  • What I will give you for donating money to it.

Now, people like you hear about my project from a friend or through social media and then take a look at my project page. You either find something that interests you or you don’t.

While perusing the page you may think, “This guy talks like Ralph Wiggum from The Simpsons (‘I drink blue juice form under the sink’)” and you start to like me (or maybe you just feel sorry for me), or maybe you like my idea and want to see it become a reality, or maybe you really like the rewards I am giving away for donating.

Put simply, you either decide to donate (congratulations! You’re now a “Backer”) or you leave my page hoping I drink enough blue juice to keep me from ever trying this again. If you decide to become a backer, you usually have a couple options:

  • A couple dollars gets you a HUGE thank you and updates about the project,
  • A pledge somewhere around $20 or $30 gets the full version of the game (or the product)
  • And bigger donations (somewhere around $75 up to a couple thousand dollars) gets you really cool rewards like a character designed after your likeness, or your name embedded in the product, or something else very personal that makes meager folk me feel significant!

When the project ends (they usually run 30 to 60 days), I either receive all the money donated or NOTHING! I receive all the money donated if the total amount pledged exceeds my pre-set funding goal, or I receive nothing if do not meet this funding goal.

This “all or nothing” is an important safety net for both the project creator and the backers. Here’s why:

If I need $10,000 to manufacture and ship my product to you, but I only receive $6,000 in pledges, then I still have to manufacture and ship the product to all the people who pledged that $6,000.

But the product costs $10,000 to manufacture and ship, so I would have to fork up $4,000 of my own money. As a result, Kickstarter gives the money back to every backer if the project doesn’t meet the preset funding goal.

Most project creators will already have spent about that much on their project before ever launching it on Kickstarter, so most don’t have that cash laying around to bridge this gap. This protects both the project creators and the backers!

Now here’s why I want to launch Atomic Zero on Kickstarter.

I think games that teach could be an incredible thing for every student, classroom, or family to have around to get the brain juices flowing and polish up on a topic. I want to start with chemistry because I believe knowing chemistry enhances the way we view the world, and enriches our appreciation for the world around us. And what better way to learn anything than by playing a game!

I have already spent about $3,500 on getting the game to where it is. But manufacturing will cost another $10k to $15K, plus a couple thousand for shipping and a couple more to finish the graphics and get it ready to print (designers are not cheap now-a-days).

So I need your help to raise this amount of money and in return, I hope to give you copies of the game, never-ending social media praise, advice on your next Kickstarter projects, big warm hugs (NO wet kisses unless your name is Marlene or you are my mom – yes I still proudly kiss my mommy!), and many other things that we think of together in the mean time ;-)

We will hopefully be launching Atomic Zero in early February of 2014. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, please subscribe to our email updates and feel free to leave any comments or contact me personally.

I Back Projects That – Catch My Attention



So I’m browsing projects on the Kickstarter website, or maybe I’ve heard about your page somehow and I’ve decided to check it out! Either way, I’ve landed on YOUR Kickstarter page. So now what?

We’re all busy people, I know I am, which means you have to get me interested, and ultimately get me to support your project in a very short period of time! But how do you do this? Here are a couple crucial things to think about:


As soon as the page loads, before anything else, the graphics are the first thing anybody notices! Not having great graphics doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll click away, but why miss this opportunity.

And the truth is, even if I am only moderately interested in the game or concept, if the graphics are incredible this may be enough to keep me reading the content and possibly find something about the project that really interests me.

Spend a little money and pay a graphic designer to produce some high quality graphics that pop off the page.


I’ve already written a lot about what a backer wants to see, as far as the project creator, in the page above called The Project Creator. Here are a few other things that are absolutely necessary in the video.

The video should be around two and a half minutes – give or go thirty seconds – which is not long! But the most effective ones must pack a lot on content into this short period of time. Here is a list of some things to consider.

Communicate Your Passion

If you haven’t noticed, this is the third time I’ve discussed this point. That’s because this is very important! Let shine your enthusiasm and passion for your KS project. If you want me to get excited about this project, you should be excited too. This may not only translate into convincing me to become a backer, but will give me reason to tell my friends as well.

If you’ve been a part of the KS community for longer than a few days you will probably have heard this point already. So much so that most people let it pass in one ear and out the other. But the truth is, I have decided not to back a number of KS projects simply because I didn’t feel like the project creator was very passionate about their idea.

I Back Projects That – Convince Me It’s Worth Investing In



The simple truth is – you’re asking for my money. Yes, maybe I really like your product, and maybe I even really like you, but why would I give you my money if I don’t trust that you’ll deliver?

This is an important point. Just being a likable person with lot of passion does not always translate into being a savvy entrepreneur or designer.

But now that you have my attention, prove to me you can follow through if this project gets funded! Here are a few ways to convince me that you’re worth investing in.

Edit Your Project Page

You may find some grammatical error, spelling errors or whatever, on many of blog posts. This is because I want to type up whatever ideas I have that I think may help my readers and click submit. But if I am trying to convince someone to support something I am doing financially, you better believe I would ensure my content is edited and accurate!

If it looks like you just threw your page together last minute and then posted it on KS I’m likely to go spend my time doing something more productive. This is an extension of the last point I made, Articulate Your Effort, but if your project page is wrought with errors it is a clear sign that you have not spent much effort on your project. My dollars took much effort to earn so I not going to give them up with knowing you’ve worked just as hard!

Make Your Page Pleasing

If your page looks like crap why should I believe your product won’t be the same? If the graphics looks amateur, why should I believe the final graphics, or the final product itself, will be any more professional? If the page is wrought with issues, why should I believe the product will be any different?

Your page should be organized. When I am deciding whether I want to invest in a project, I shouldn’t have to sift through unclear content and decipher its meaning. It should be very clear! I have enough work to do – backing a project should be satisfying and fun not work.

  • The sentences should be clear and concise: Don’t use too many words, get to the point. I’m not here to read a novel, I’m here to hear about your project. But you’ve only got a couple minutes to convince me to continue reading and possibly support you!
  • Don’t use too many big words: You want your reader to enjoy reading the project page and I shouldn’t need to pull my old dusty thesaurus off the shelf in order to figure out what you’re trying to say!
  • Don’t use too much “Industry” jargon: I may hear about a project that is totally outside my field of expertise and decided to visit the KS page. But if I feel like the page is targeted to people who are already part of their “club” then I will be much more reluctant to back it. (This is especially important for you gamers!)

Articulate Your Effort

One way to do with is to articulate the effort you have already put into the project. It should be clear that this took a ton of time, passion, money and energy that could have been used for other things. Tell me how much time and money you have spent.

And if you have any experience, or past successes that relate to this type of project discuss those too! I want to know that you will not give up if things aren’t easy. I want to know that you have already done a lot of persevering. And I want to know that you fill follow through when you run into the many hurdles (they will come inevitably) ahead! I want to know my money was well spent!

Communicate Your Passion

If you haven’t noticed, this is the second time I’ve discussed this point. That’s because this is very important! Let shine your enthusiasm and passion for your KS project. If you want me to get excited about this project, you should be excited too. This may not only translate into convincing me to become a backer, but will give me reason to tell my friends as well.

If you’ve been a part of the KS community for longer than a few days you will probably have heard this point already. So much so that most people let it pass in one ear and out the other. But the truth is, I have decided not to back a number of KS projects simply because I didn’t feel like the project creator was very passionate about their idea.

I Back Projects That – Personally Connect With Me



Of the many principles to sales, one very important principle is to connect on a personal level with the individual you’re trying to sell to. Or said in an even more shallow way – get them to like you! When I am deciding whether to back a KS project or not, it is very important that I feel like I can connect in some way with the project creator. I want to know that he or she is an overall good person and cares greatly about their project.

The funny thing is, I most likely won’t ever know this person in real life so it doesn’t really matter if this is true or not. But this is a key point for anyone who wishes to be a successful Kickstarter (KS) project creator!

I’ve created the below after sitting down and recording my thoughts while viewing multiple KS projects over the past few most, and deciding whether to back them or not. These ideas can be articulated through the written content on your page or in your bio, but the most effective way in through your video.

Talk a Little about Yourself

I want to see that you are another average person, just like me. If you’re a big corporation selling a product, I’ll only back it if I really want the product. However, if you’re another average person with a regular 9-to-5 job that you only half-heartedly care about but working hard to turn this dream of yours into a reality, then I can empathize with you!

It doesn’t need to be long winded, nor should it be, but I want to know a little about as well. Tell me what you do in real life, how this idea came about, why you started this project and why you want it to become a reality. I love backing project when I feel like it could be me sitting behind that camera!

Seem Happy and Smile

I have clicked the “back” button on numerous projects because the project creator seemed just too plain! I would think to myself, “how is backing this project going to make me any more happy if the person launching this project isn’t even happy to be launching it?” So make sure this is clear on your page and especially in your video!

Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

It’s not all business on KS. If you think certain things are funny, don’t be afraid to add a little humor to you project page and especially your video!

Communicate Your Passion

This is very important! Let shine your enthusiasm and passion for your KS project. If you want me to get excited about this project, you should be excited too. This may not only translate into convincing me to become a backer, but will give me reason to tell my friends as well.

If you’ve been a part of the KS community for longer than a few days you will probably have heard this point already. So much so that most people let it pass in one ear and out the other. But the truth is, I have decided not to back a number of KS projects simply because I didn’t feel like the project creator was very passionate about their idea.

What I Look for in a Kickstarter Project and Why I’ll Back It



Let’s keep something in mind – we don’t all have an infinite amount of funds to blow on Kickstarter projects. And we all know how it feels to get excited about that game, or book, or whatever, and then almost forget about it over the next six months while we wait for it actually arrive at our door.

So why do we continue to give our precious few discretionary dollars over to some random person’s project on Kickstarter?

If I want the latest new game to play over the weekend, I would go buy one at the local game store. Or if I wanted a respectable novel to read, I would go to a local book store. The “products” alone are not what draws me to a Kickstarter project page – the turnaround time is just too long!

What brings me to KS is something very different – I want to watch an idea become a reality. I want to see another average guy or gal like me succeed with an idea or a dream. I want to see this idea manifest itself into something real – something he/she didn’t have the funds to do alone.

More so, I want to get wrapped up in this idea. I want to get wrapped up in something bigger than just my 9-to-5, something that everyone is talking about, or something that no one is talking about. I want to post it on my social media page so I can partake in the buzz or post it instead because I’m the only one of my friends who knows anything about it!

I have dreams too and being a part of making someone else’s come to life is an incredible feeling. I want to be the first to pledge, or the 100th pledge! I want to be the one that puts them over the $1,000 mark or the $10,000 mark, or the one that unlocks the next stretch goal because then I am a part of the success too!

Oh yes, and the feeling of FINALLY receiving it in the mail!? Opening the package and holding the box in my hands. Biting the corner of the shrink wrap so I can peel it back. Wiping my finger across the box design before pulling the top open, and examining the first thing I see.

Scrutinizing every detail as I think to myself, “this was someone’s idea and here it is, I made it happen” while flipping through the pages, or the cards and peering at each graphic like it was an actual animation. These are all reason why I would back a Kickstarter project. Some average guy or girl had an idea – and I am the reason it became a reality!

With that said here are a few things that are absolutely critical when I am deciding if I want to back a Kickstarter project or not. These aren’t always true for everyone and every project – sometimes I see something so cool I just want to support it or even own it! I’ll talk more about this later.

I Back Projects That – Personally Connect With Me

I Back Projects That – Convince Me It’s Worth Investing In

I Back Projects That – Catch My Attention

Chemistry Lesson #7 – Subatomic Particles – Particle Mass

A Single Atom

A Single Atom

In the last lesson we described a few ways to think about the difference between mass and weight. We also discussed the incredibly small mass of an electron when compared to the mass of a proton or neutron. And lastly, we discussed how in chemistry, we usually neglect the mass of the electron because it is so small compared to the mass of a proton or neutron.

A caveat point I should make – you may have often heard the terms mass and weight used almost interchangeably. Even though this is “technically” not accurate, sometimes it simplifies things to do so. (There are a lot of common phrases that we use to simplify things but are technically not proper English! Can you think of some?)

Here’s why –

The simplest and most effective way to measure the mass of an object is to observe how it reacts when a force is applied to it. Imagine someone throwing a golf ball at you verses a ping pong ball. They are both the same “size”, but the golf ball has a much larger “mass” than the ping pong ball. Since the golf ball has a much larger mass, it will exert a much larger force unto your body resulting in much more pain!

Now remember that weight is simply a measure of force – more superficially, a measure of force due to gravity (Instead of being thrown)! Therefore the simplest and most effective way to measure the mass on an object is to measure how much force it applies to a scale (either in your bathroom or in a laboratory) due to gravity. More simply – weigh it! If you know the weight, you can find the mass by simply dividing by the gravitational constant. But as long as you’re on planet earth the gravitational constant is the same everywhere. So as long as you’re on planet earth, the relationship between mass and weight does not change! And thus these terms are incorrectly, but practically used interchangeably.

Okay, so back to the mass of an individual subatomic particles. Through extensive experiments it has been determined that it would take roughly 1836 electrons to equal the mass of a single proton or neutron. Think about it this way – How much of your body’s weight do you imagine is due to protons and neutrons and how much of it is due to electrons?

For a 150 pound person, protons and neutrons would account for 149.94 pounds, while electrons would account for only 0.04 pounds. That’s only 0.02%. A normal bathroom scale doesn’t even measure to this degree of accuracy, so it couldn’t tell the difference between you with electrons and you without electrons (but if you didn’t have any electrons you would be dead).

Now we still run into the challenge of trying to measure the mass of a single subatomic particle. Since it was recognized that protons and neutrons accounted for almost the entire mass of an object, scientists decided to use the number of the protons and neutrons as a measurement of the mass. (At least a measurement of mass at the tiny atomic scale) This unit of mass was termed the Atomic Mass Unit, or “AMU” for short. So 1 AMU was equal to the mass of a single proton or neutron.

The AMU unit is defined as 1/12 of the mass of a carbon atom (or divide the mass of a carbon atom by 12). This is because a carbon atom has 6 protons and 6 neutrons, for a sum of 12 total protons and neutrons. So by dividing the mass of a single carbon atom by 12, you get mass of one proton or neutron (remember they are so similar in mass that they are assumed to be equal).

The AMU is still used today in most chemistry classes as a standard unit to measurement. It is also accompanied by another standard measurement for mass called the Mole, which accounts for each element differently, since each element is made from a different number of protons and neutrons. The Mole is a simple concept but is over-complicated in most chemistry courses. However, I will have save this discussion for another time since I want to get away from talking about too many minute details and get back to overarching concepts that are so incredibly intriguing to the whole of chemistry!

Chemistry Lesson #6 – Subatomic Particles – The Difference between Mass and Weight

A Single Atom

A Single Atom

To recap, we know that everything you can see and touch, literally every physical object around you can be made from only three particles, called subatomic particles: protons, neutrons and electrons.

These subatomic particles combine in various numbers and combinations to form every atom in the universe, and these atoms combine in various numbers and combinations to form every molecule in the universe, and ultimately every physical thing in the universe. In the last post we discussed how incredibly small these particles are and gave a few examples to help think about their size. Now we need to discuss the second of the three properties which are most important to us: Mass.

When I talk about mass, usually the first thing people ask is: this is like weight, right? The answer is – sort of. When we speak of mass we are referring to the amount of actual physical stuff (which is referred to as “matter”), within an object. Weight does not refer to the amount of matter within an object, rather weight refers to the amount of force that an object exerts downward due to gravity.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

Let’s assume you are standing on a standard bathroom scale. Since, you are a physical object and the earth’s gravity is pulling you down onto the scale, then you are exerting a force unto that scale. The number you see in front of you, your weight, is a measure of the amount of force which you are exerting on the scale due to the influence of gravity on your body.

So what happens when you gently bounce up and down? The scale starts to jump all over the place. If you bounce up for a moment, the scale will show a lower weight, and when you come back down, you exert a greater force on the scale from your downward motion pushing down onto the scale, which causes the scale read a larger weight. But has the actual amount of matter of which you are composed actually changed? No not at all!

This brings us to mass. The mass is a measure of the total quantity of matter – the total quantity of physical stuff within the thing you are trying to measure. So what gives matter its mass? The answer is protons and neutrons! Remember, every physical and tangible object (this is matter) in our universe is composed of only three subatomic particles – protons, neutrons and electrons. And at some level, these three particles are responsible for every property of matter.

But recognize that I said the mass is the due to the protons and neutrons, and I did not include the electrons. That is because the mass of an electron – much like its size (which we learned about in the last lesson) – is incredibly small compared to that of protons and neutrons. So small in fact, that we tend to disregard it completely. In the next lesson, we will talk more about the actual mass of each of these three subatomic particles in greater detail.

So to recap:

  • The mass of an object is the quantity or amount of actual matter (or physical stuff) within that object.
  • The only way to change the mass of an object is add or take away matter (or physical stuff) from that object.
  • The weight of an object is the force that object exert downward on the earth due to both its mass and the influence of gravity on that object.
  • The mass of an electron is so much smaller than the mass of a proton or neutron that the mass of the electrons is usually disregard in chemistry.

Chemistry Lesson #5 – Subatomic Particles (Part 2) – Particle Sizes

A Single Atom

A Single Atom

Now that we have talked about a few ways in which we all interact with subatomic particles on daily basis, let’s talk a little more about the properties of these tiny little guys! If we can understand the properties of subatomic particles, and we know that subatomic particles combine to make atoms, then we can explain many properties of the atom, by using the properties of the subatomic particles. And you should be comforted by the fact that there are only a few properties that are actually important to us (unless you’re a particle physicist)!

Those properties are size, mass and charge. Let’s focus on the size for now. The size is difficult to comprehend because subatomic particles are so incredibly small that we can only explain them by using analogy.

Here’s an example.

It would take just under half a million pennies to fill an average size American house and there are around 132 million homes in the U.S. (according to the 2010 Census). This mean it would take 54 million billion pennies to fill every house in the U.S.! Let’s compare this to the number of protons you could pack into an object the size of a marble.

You would have to pack every house in the U.S. with pennies, and then repeat this over a trillion billion times (which is a number a million times greater than the amount of pennies it would take to fill every house in the U.S.), just to come close to the number of protons you could pack into an object the size of a marble! Stop and think about that for a minute; it’s hard to even grasp!

Thankfully, there is no major difference between the size of a proton and a neutron, therefore most scientists just assume they are equal in size for all practical purposes (and mass is also assumed equal which I will explain later). This simplifies things! But how about the size difference between a proton and an electron?

Well, we know that the electron is much smaller than the proton, however, there is a fascinating problem with even asking this question! The question assumes that an electron is a particle – or more sufficiently, a small “physical” object that takes up space. In reality, an electron does sometimes “behave” like a particle, but it also “behaves” like it’s not a particle. I don’t want to confuse you, but let that just be a taste to pique your curiosity for a later post about the nature of the electron. These things are crazy!

For the sake of this analogy, let us assume that an electron is currently “behaving” like a particle. In this case, the size difference between an electron and a proton is like the size difference between a small bee bee or pellet (from a bee bee or pellet gun) and a bowling ball. The proton is somewhere around two thousand times larger than the electron, just as the bowling ball is somewhere around two thousand times larger than the bee bee.

At least you can comprehend this number! And since we are left agreeable, I will end it here!

Chemistry Lesson #4 – Subatomic Particles (Part 1)


Static Electrcity

I love pulling my laundry out of the drier right after it finishes its cycle because this is when the clothes have no wrinkles! But I have begun to notice an interesting phenomenon. When I try and pull out a piece of clothing, it usually wants to stick to the rest of the clothes in the dryer, and when I force this rebellious t-shirt out of the drier, it’s resistance is accompanied by crackling sounds and sometimes tiny little sparks.

A very similar phenomena occurs when you walk around the house in the winter with fuzzy socks on, only to receive a jolting shock when you touch a door handle. Or after touching your car door after getting into and out of your car or after sliding down a slide at a playground. So what in the world is happening when your clothes stick together or when your car or house door handle give you a shock? Or when your hair sticks up after sliding down a slide or rubbing it with a balloon? Most recognize this phenomena as static electricity. But what in the world is happening here and what does it have to do with chemistry?

The key is SUBATOMIC PARTICLES! Like we discussed earlier, there are three subatomic particles – protons, neutrons and electrons – that combine in various numbers and combinations to form every atom in the universe, and these atoms combine in various numbers and combinations to form every molecule in the universe, and ultimately every physical thing in the universe – and your clothes fall into this category!

When your clothes cycles around a drier, or when your pants rub across the car seat or down a slide at the playground, some of these subatomic particles will rub off! Since they have differing charges, they transfer this charge to their final location. This is called charging, and it’s when tiny charged particles rub off from one material and are left on another. The tiny particles which usually rub off are the electrons since they are so much smaller, lighter and mobile than the protons and neutrons.

When your clothes rub against each other in the drier, these tiny electrons will transfer from one piece of clothing to another. Since electrons have a negative charge, they cause their new home (your t-shirt) to become more negatively charged, where as their old home (your pajama pants) are now more positively charge since the negatively charged electrons have left them. Since your t-shirt and pajama pants are now oppositely charged, they attract each other!

The same thing happens to your body when you walk around the house with socks on, or slide down a slide at the park. You build up these tiny charges from all that rubbing! But why does the shock happen when you touch a door handle?

Think about the material of a door handle for a second. They are usually metal. And what is the difference between metals and a plastic slide, your socks, or pajama pants? The metal is conductive which means charges will easily flow through it, whereas the other items are what’s called insulators, materials in which charge remains immobile or does not move through it.

So this charge builds up on your body from all this rubbing, and has nowhere to go. When you touch a metal door handle, the conductive metal allows these charges to flow through it – this is the same thing as allowing electricity to flow through you, and Zap – you feel the shock!

This phenomena is even worse in the winter because the air is drier, whereas humid air (water) is more conductive and will continually cause the charges to release back to their original location instead of building up.

These tiny charges are the exact same charges that make up every atom in the universe, and thus every physical thing in the universe! In the next blog I’ll discuss more about how these crazy little charged particles make up the actual atoms!

Chemistry Lesson #3 – Making Sense of the Scale

A Single Atom

A Single Atom

If I were to show you a very small section of a famous painting and asked why this specific piece of the artwork mattered, how would you respond? Personally, I would want to see the whole painting before I would feel comfortable responding properly. I would want to know where this zoomed in section I am viewing is located with respect to the picture as a whole, before I could describe its purpose and function practically and with precision. Was this a foot, an apple, or was it a part of the border? Without first seeing the whole picture, it would be difficult to fully grasp the importance of this smaller section. In the same way, without understanding where chemistry lies with the scheme of the science, with the scale of all things practical, without first getting a glimpse of the big picture, it is difficult to truly appreciate and understand chemistry. This is what I hope to do in this post.

Everything that you can see and touch, literally every physical object around you is made from only three particles. That’s right THREE! These three particles are protons, neutrons and electrons. (We will go into the details of these three particles in a later post) Now atoms are made from various combinations of these three particles. Since these three particles are smaller than atoms, which they combine to make, they are called “Sub-Atomic” particles. “Sub” meaning smaller than, and “Atomic” meaning atoms – so Sub-Atomic Particles means particles smaller than the atom. This may come as a shock, so sit back and think about this for a second. Everything physical and tangible in our universe (your shoes, your clothes, your hair, and even you!) is made from only THREE particles.

Like we discussed earlier, these three particles come together in varying numbers to form atoms. And there are roughly 118 distinct types of atoms (Such as carbon, sodium, silver and nickel – more accurately referred to as Elements but I will discuss this distinction in a later post). Now these atoms come together in varying numbers to form millions of different types of molecules and compounds (such as water, carbon monoxide, glucose and various proteins – I’ll discuss the difference between molecules and compounds in a later post). These millions of different types of molecules and compounds combine in various ways to form the vast number of components in your cells, the food we eat, the atmosphere, earth, and plants around us.

So to recap:

  • Every physical object that you see around you can be broken down into only THREE tiny particles: protons, neutrons and electrons.
  • Different numbers of these three particles combine to form around 118 different types of atoms (for example – roughly 8 protons, 8 neutrons and 8 electrons go into forming oxygen whereas only 6 of each go into forming carbon).
  • Differing numbers and combinations of these 118 distinct types of atoms (i.e carbon and oxygen) come together to form millions of different kinds of molecules and compounds (for example – roughly 6 carbon atoms, 6 oxygen atoms and 12 hydrogen atoms go into for the molecule glucose).
  • And these millions of different types of molecules and compounds form almost everything in our universe (for example – thousands of glucose molecule go into making the bran muffin you ate for breakfast)!

Chemistry Lesson #2 – Making Sense of Chemistry

A single Atom

A Single Atom

Chemistry sounds like a really complicated topic, and if you were to look up the definition it may be scary. But in simple terms chemistry is simply the subject that tries to understand how the world works and functions at the very smallest scale. For example, you could observe a drop of water just by looking at it. If you divided that drop of water in half you could still observe it by simply looking at it. But what if you divided it in half again, and again, and again… say about 20 times? The tiny drop of water you’d have left would be so small you could no longer see it with just your naked eye. You would need a magnifying glass, or a microscope just to show that it even exists. Imagine you kept dividing this water droplet in half over and over again. You’d have to ask yourself the question – can I cut up this water droplet so many times that it is no longer a water droplet? The answer is yes.

At some point you will cut up that water droplet enough times that all that will be left is a single molecule of water. This single molecule of water is still water, but if you were to divide it even one more time, you would no longer have water! This is because a single molecule of water consists of only three atoms. One atom of oxygen and two atoms of hydrogen. These hydrogen and oxygen atoms alone are not water, they are atoms. Water is simply a specific combination of hydrogen and oxygen. This is the very small “scale” that I described above. This is the very small scale that chemistry is mainly concerned with studying. In the study of chemistry you will start to ask and answer questions such as: what is a hydrogen atom and how is it different from an oxygen atom within water? Why does water have two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom instead of two oxygen atoms and one hydrogen atom? What other atoms exist and how do they form other molecules similar to water? …and so on…

Chemistry Lesson #1 – Chemistry Can Shape the Way You View the World

A SIngle Atom

A Single Atom

For some time I have wanted to write a few shorts lessons on how to, not just survive chemistry class, but to actually understand it. I have finally sat down to do so. After studying chemistry in-depth in college, getting a master degree in environmental and chemical engineering, and teaching chemistry for a couple years, I have come to the conclusion that the topic of chemistry is often over-complicated with complex formulas and equations and the instruction of the subject has become unattached from reality. In this way, both teachers and students forget to sit back and appreciate the true depth and beauty of a topic that can help one to grasp so much about the world around them.

Have you ever wondered why the water we drink is a liquid and the air we breathe is a gas? Why is it not the other way around – why is the air not a liquid and the water not a gas? Or why is the cup we use to transport the water from the tap to our mouth a solid? We put gasoline into our car and then it runs for miles and miles. We look into the sky and see so many colors, but why? I hope that by explaining some of the most fascinating, and yet practical, concepts within chemistry (in the way that I understand them), that you will develop both an understanding of, and a passion for, chemistry.  This will not just help one to make better grades in school, but can provide a practical basis for understanding the world around us!

Why I Started a Blog

Sometimes people talk and talk about so many things and for long periods of time, but rarely actually say anything. The funny thing about having a “conversation” in writing, whether over a blog with comments, emails, letters, or what have you, it’s much more difficult to just talk without saying something. I’m not saying that no one ever writes without saying anything, I am saying that it is so much harder to do so with writing. Not because people are smarter when they write, or care more or are more on point when they write, but because writing take so much more effort – so much more time and thought to write it out and to make sure your grammar and spelling are correct. And everyone knows that once you write it down you can’t twist it around and say, “I didn’t say what you think I said, I said this…” in order to alter what you’ve said after that fact. So usually lazy people who like to just talk to sound smart, stay away from writing things out. And for this very reason, I didn’t want to write down my thoughts.

But I would still go out and have conversations with people about controversial and sensitive topics, about things that mattered though. But then people would just talk for such long periods of time without ever saying anything. So that’s why I am writing a blog. So we can have a conversation about things that matter, and we can actually get somewhere with this conversation. I don’t claim to know a whole lot, I just like to talk about things that matter. And I’ve studied people who are much smarter than me and I would like to talk about what they’ve taught me. So here I go.