How coral reefs are affected by rising ocean temperatures

Notes to the Required Paper:
Part of your grade for this course is a paper on a chemistry topic of your choice. This paper is worth 30 points.
The paper will be due on Monday, May 10th. Your grade for the paper will be determined on the following criteria:

  • the quality of the content. The paper should be a factual paper. While it is ok to have an opinion or a point of view, the paper should contain factual information from reliable sources. For those of you who use sites such as Wikipedia, it’s ok to start there, but that shouldn’t be your most definitive source of information. You should be using more reliable sources. These could include:
    • published textbooks or articles from edited, reviewed sources. The sources that you will find using the library databases are reliable ones.
    • educational websites (such as websites of research groups, or published notes from professionals) usually are reliable.
    • government, industry and reputable non-profit organizations.
  • the length of the paper. The paper cannot exceed 1500 words (excluding the footnotes and/or bibliography); thus, your paper should be focused, and on topic that is narrow enough that you can write about it meaningfully in a reasonable number of words. But the paper should also be reasonably well developed, too; a paper that is too short may not be sufficient. As a guide,
    • to earn a maximum of 30 points, your paper should be 1200 to 1500 words long;
    • to earn a maximum of 20 points, your paper should be 1000 to 1200 words long;
    • to earn a maximum of 15 points, your paper should be 800 to 1000 words long.
    • If your paper is significantly shorter than 800 words, you may still receive some credit for it as long as the quality is otherwise appropriate.
  • footnotes or endnotes, and bibliography: You may use either footnotes or endnotes. You must cite your sources for any information that is not considered common knowledge. You also must cite your sources for any material that you quote, even if the information is common knowledge. Your notes and bibliography should be in a standard form. You can use any method that you may were taught in your English Composition class, or any other standard professional method. There is no set number of sources that you must use, but you should have a variety of sources that demonstrate your ability to retrieve information and assemble it into a meaningful document.

Possible Topics:
You can write about any topic that interests you as long as it could reasonably belong in the course. In the first half of the course, we talked about water and air pollution, climate change and global warming, and batteries and how they work; in the second half of the course, we have talked, or will talk, about nutrition, medicines and DNA. These were some major themes. Students in previous courses have written about:

  • the drink known as “mead”
  • the compounds that make up shampoo
  • what happens to food when you bake it
  • why gold is used in some electronic devices
  • how coral reefs are affected by rising ocean temperatures
  • how acid rain is formed
  • what the Haber process is
  • how ninhydrin and iodine are used to develop fingerprints
  • where naturally-occurring food dyes come from
  • how hemodialysis works
  • the harmful effects of electronic cigarettes
  • how heroin is produced
  • what a vaccine is composed of
  • whether it is appropriate for the federal government to regulate food choices in school lunches
  • why the health of honey bees is declining
  • what green chemistry is
  • some chemistry of the noble gases
  • what xeriscaping is
  • some environmental impacts of electronic waste
  • why dietary guidelines put a limit on the consumption of added sugars
  • a comparison of table sugar and honey
  • what microplastic is
  • how viruses replicate in a cell
  • what genetically modified foods are
  • how the current version of the periodic table is organized
  • how cobra venom works
  • how aspirin works

For me, the most interesting papers to read are the ones on topics that I don’t know too much about. If all you do is repeat back something that I already talked about, I will accept it and you will receive credit for it, but it won’t be very exciting, and I’ll wonder why you didn’t choose something else. But if you write about something that I didn’t talk about in a lot of detail, but that flows out of a discussion that we did have, or if you take a topic that I did talk about ad you develop it even more, or if you choose something completely different but meaningful to you, that might make a paper that is enjoyable and interesting to read.
Finally, your paper will be more interesting for me to read, and probably easier for you to write, if you choose a well-defined, well-focused, narrow topic. For example, “drugs of abuse” is an interesting topic, but it’s too big a topic to write about in a short paper; “how heroin is produced” is something that could be covered. “Nutrition” also is too big a topic, but “how honey is different from table sugar” is manageable. “Poison” is too big; “how cobra venom works” is appropriate.
If you are having trouble even getting started, recall some of the websites that we have used, or will use, this semester. You could look in the Molecule of the Month section of the RCSB Protein Data Bank. [You can also get a great deal of information on the coronavirus from the same website.] You could look at some of the topics in the US Environmental Protection Agency website, or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission website. You can find information on specific drugs of abuse at the Drug Enforcement Administration website. You can get information on specific compounds and medicines from Pub Chem or Pub Med. You can look at the websites for the Centers for Disease Control, or the National Institute of Health, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the National Institute for Standards and Technology.