Seperis (seperis) wrote,

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notes notes notes, the new black

So. On page 29 of textbook, ten page left until the end of Chapter 1: The Foundations of Chemistry. After, ,there are exercises and key terms, both of which I will do. There are twenty pages of college-ruled notes in my Spiral of Chemical Insanity.

In Chemistry, after that, still have Chapter 2 and etc to finsih, though I need to re-read my syllabus. I think the way this is set up is for a chapter a week, not two a week, so it could be I can do just a read-through and wait to do text notes after--honestly, it feels like a better idea once I've heard the lecture so I know what to note down and what I don't, but--honestly, it will depend on my timing.

(note for sga fen; I have never been more inspired to write Strangerverse backstory where Rodney has to teach John how to take notes and get through class on something other than cramming, because Rodney has already decided that he is marrying John and by God, his husband to be is damn well going to *also* be superoverachieving and scary so Rodney can *really* show off during huge conferences; Rodney strikes me as the type to get off on watching his *boyfreind* also decimate his opponents. I feel suddenly sorry for every person that Rodney and John ever met)


Fundamentals is doing better; I finished Chapter one notes and have only the exercises left to do.

So this is how people do that thing where they don't need to cram. Huh.

This sudden kick of overachieving can be split into three carefully thought out catgories. I'd change ink color, but my hand is cramped up from holding a pen, so I'm taking a break.

1.) This is all fairly new-again; I was sixteen when I last took chemistry. In horror, I realized that is close to half my life ago. I mean--HALF MY LIFE AGO. So even if I think I know it, I'm doggedly writing it over again just to reinforce.

2.) Some of this is stuff I used to not know and pretend I did--this is dangerous because giving me a multiple choice test is kind of like just telling me the answers; with very few exceptions, I'm going to be fine in multiple choice due to the sheer logic factor. Process of eliminiation always kills two of four, and the other questions on the test are usually good clues in themselves on how to answer other questions. This is one of the many reasons that in high school I caught up on my sleep and wrote at least three full-length novels in various notebooks during class. Except Geometry. God, I hate Geometry.

So. Every example: green-penned into my notebook. Every practice: written out in pencil, then go back to correct in pen. Every definition: written in purple or black-boxed, to grind in what I know superficially already. Especially the math, because it's not enough to get partial credit this time around for getting most of it--this time, I want it *right*.

3.) I have this strange desire to prove that psychology is wrong and cognitive ability does not decrease after age twenty-five.

I have a pile of notecards for the periodic table, ready to be used for flashcarding my way across every common element in Groups 1-8. It's an odd feeling of not--hmm. The vague boredom is there, but so is--it's something like fascination. I don;t know why, exactly, but this part is usually boring, and it *is*, but it's also.

Okay. I know why I'm learning it, which is one of those things most teachers seem to never bother to explain. I know now why the difference between metric and SI is important to remember, I know why signficant factors have to be more than just something I learned in math by rote and do by instinct; I know why it's necessary to turn how I draw up formulas in my head into something beyond reflex--I need to know why the hell they are making me do this and this time, the pattern is so obvious that it's like waking up. I'm learning this because here I need to do this and that makes this possible.

You know, I would have probably been a lot more interested in class in high school if at any time someone had taken out hydrochlroic acid and sodium hydroxide, poured them together, and poured it onto something to *show* the power of mixing two powerful acids to create salt water.

And now a random personal anecdote: I know we all love these.

When I was a wee-jenn in fifth grade, they'd just piloted the Gifted and Talented program and etc, but the important part was that the teacher for GT was also the principal of the elementary school *and* the science teacher for grades four through six and she scared me in both GT and in class (fourth grade bio six weeks, we dissected a cow eyeball. Dear God. Awesome). But she was actually, in retrospect, an amazing teacher. I'm about to tell you why.

Mrs. L during the second semester of fifth grade asked us all to decide what we'd like to study next. We'd done a stunningly boring turn through weather (clouds, yawn, blah), light (neat pinhole camera), plants. She did her best with what she had to work with, which was a lot of stuff that required watching (plants), observing (pinhole camera), or writing columns of data down to explain weather patterns (God, hated), and considering what she had to work with--twenty-something active fifth graders--she pretty much performed daily miracles.

But she asked, staring in horror at the book that probably had something like "How to Turn Off Every Child on Science Ever" up as the next chapter so we could learn to observe, say, *air*.

I raised my hand and Mrs. L called on me from my spot at the front left lab table (the awesome of our elementary was that the lab classroom didn't have desks--it had nine four-person square lab tables with stools, so that is where we sat. Neat.) And I asked about chemistry.

I didnt know it was called chemistry as a class--I figured it had a fancy and annoying name like plants (botany) and weather (meteosomething). She nodded and I kept talking about test tubes and colored liquid and finally she said, yes, Chemistry and then she told us to put our books away.

Fifth grade didn't have a chapter on chemistry.

For six weeks, we lived on xeroxed notes from high school textbooks and lectures, learning the really old fashioned way, by sheer fascinated persistence. Since most of what she gave us had vocabulary we couldn't be familiar with, she substituted practical application for a lot of definitions, which is why three weeks in, we all sat at our own lab table with two beakers, a graduated cylinder, chemicals pilfered from the high school lab (where her husband taught science), a bunson burner, and something to prove, where we created our first test-tube bomb.

I watched light explode inside a test tube beneath my (metaphorical) hands, the brilliant definition of a chemical expression written across the board and ground into our minds. This was the road she placed us on, what she told us we could do; not watch the world, but change it, create something that made light and sound from two things that didn't. We made something new.

Here is what it is, she had told us, writing it on the board, pointing to the xeroxes. This is what it does, she said, setting up the equipment for the first demonstration on the very first day. This is why you need this. This is why I am making you learn this. This is what you will do when I'm done with you.

And we did.

I still need to find out what she made me make; I don't remember the formula that she taught us, the chemicals each of twenty-something ten year old-eleven-year old children had placed on their desks, into their hands.

There are thirteen lab assignemtns for this class; I've done them all before. The last one is the Ten Test Tube Mystery, where I'll be given ten test tubes and two hours and twenty minutes to discover what they are. And every day in class, I'll be told how to find out, on the board in equations written in a language of letters and atomic numbers and symbols, letters that will resolve into meaning, this is what it is, sodium chloride and sulferic acid and calcium, this is what it does, reactions NaOH + HCl -----> NaCl + H2O (two subscript), this is why you need this, in the eleven labs that will lead to it, this is why I am making you learn this, twelve test tubes and a final grade.

This is what you will do when I'm done with you.

Twelve mysteries that will be solved in two hours and twenty minutes, in a notebook where I document the road I took to get there.

Kind of cool, huh?
Tags: anecdotes, jenn's school
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