It’ll be fun they said…

1 Posted by - January 22, 2017 - Organic Chemistry class, science outreach

So here it is the 22nd of January and I realize that I have been neglecting my blog. Time to get back at it and share my plans for the coming semester. But first what has happened since my last post which was a few days after I wrote the final exam in Organic Chemistry.

I did indeed run out of time in preparing for the exam and due to my work commitments was unable to take advantage of the extra office hours that the professor had set. So on exam day, sitting among all the students at my little table in the Kerr Hall gym, I was not able to answer some questions, guessed at what I didn’t know and said goodbye to my organic chemistry experience with a handwritten note to the professor at the top of my exam…It said:

“Thanks Bryan for welcoming me to the class – lots of guessing here but maybe enough to pass ūüôā HLV”

At the end of that week I left for three weeks of vacation. At some point during my first week off ¬†I got the results of my efforts. I¬†was pretty excited to get an email with the subject line “certainly enough to pass”. I passed the final exam with a grade of 61.7%.

Throughout the term as I did better and better on my quizzes I actually convinced myself I might be able to get an A in the course, until the final days of studying before the exam and then I just hoped to pass the exam. If I was actually getting a grade, based on my exam and quizzes I would have earned about 70% in the non-lab part of the course. Despite what I imagined might be possible at various points, I have to say I am proud of myself for trying my best and learning what I did despite the gaps in my basic knowledge. It was fun. I learned many things, for example:

  • I learned first hand about some of the challenges that our science students face which was really the point of the whole exercise.
  • I learned what I was actually capable of if I just tried.
  • I learned that there are many factors that determine success in a course like this – understanding basic knowledge from prerequisites, time on task, use of all extra help offered such as professor office hours and supported learning groups, ability to memorize, creation of cue cards and flash cards to test yourself, and in my case actually accurately recording the date of your final exam and planning your study schedule accordingly.
  • I learned that my classmates had exponentially more stress and pressure on them than I faced as most had to write five 3-hour exams, each covering 12 weeks of material – I only had one.

So it is now January and I will continue my engagement with science students for the next semester. I am not taking another course but I will be working with the students on the Science Outreach and Enrichment team to plan their most ambitious annual event called Science Rendezvous. It will take place at Yonge/Dundas Square on Saturday May 13, 2017 so mark your calendars. From the Ryerson Science Rendezvous website:

“Science Rendezvous is Canada‚Äôs national celebration of science, with free public events and activities all across the country. We at Ryerson University host an all-day event in the heart of the city that includes amazing research, hands-on activities, displays and stage shows that delight and demonstrate how science plays a part in our everyday lives. Bring the whole family. There is something for everyone!”

I am also participating in a pilot project related to a new tool that one of our student affairs units has created to assist students in curating their learning experiences to better prepare then to articulate their strengths with employers when they leave Ryerson. I will share more about this experience in future blog posts this term.

Finally I hope to meet and interview more of our science students so¬†I can share more student profiles here. I focused so much of my time last term on learning course material that I didn’t¬†learn enough about individual students.

So as I bid adieu to my organic chemistry chapter. I take with me the¬†ability to understand the chemistry humour that many folks have been sharing with me since September. Some of my favourites below that I know my classmates will all be able to relate to…