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Chemistry for Kids

Organic Chemistry

What is organic chemistry?

Organic chemistry is the study of compounds that contain the element carbon. This is a wide ranging topic that overlaps with other sciences like biochemistry, medicine, and materials science. Organic chemists study the properties, structure, and chemical reactions of organic compounds.

Why is carbon important?

Carbon is the central element to all living organisms. It is the basis to all life on earth. By studying carbon and organic compounds, scientists can learn more about life, the human body, and how it works.

Organic Molecules

Most organic molecules are made up of long rings or chains of carbon atoms with atoms of other elements attached. Common elements besides carbon (C) that are found in organic compounds include hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and sulfur (S). Some examples of organic molecules include: Types of Organic Compounds or Functional Groups

There are a number of types of organic compounds. Scientists divide these up into functional groups based on the type of element common to the group in addition to carbon. These groups have similar properties because they have similar molecules.


Hydrocarbons form a functional group of organic compounds that are composed of only hydrogen and carbon atoms. Within the group of hydrocarbons are other groups such as alkanes. Alkanes include ethane, propane, methane, and butane. A lot of these compounds are used for heating and cooking. Other groups of hydrocarbons are alkenes, and alkynes.

Other elements

Other elements that carbon combines with to form organic compounds include oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, and boron.

Organic Synthesis

Organic synthesis is the process of making organic compounds. Many of the products we use everyday are made from organic compounds produced in large factories. Examples of these include plastics, alcohols, rubber, and dyes.

What is the difference between organic chemistry and biochemistry?

We learned that organic chemistry is the study of compounds containing carbon. Biochemistry, on the other hand, is the study of chemical processes in biological systems. These two sciences often overlap as organic compounds play an important role in many chemical processes.

Interesting Facts about Organic Chemistry

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More Chemistry Subjects

Solids, Liquids, Gases
Melting and Boiling
Chemical Bonding
Chemical Reactions
Radioactivity and Radiation
Mixtures and Compounds
Naming Compounds
Separating Mixtures
Acids and Bases
Salts and Soaps
Glossary and Terms
Chemistry Lab Equipment
Organic Chemistry
Famous Chemists

Elements and the Periodic Table
Periodic Table

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