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March 22, 2014

On the Go: Science classes weren't wasted

Most science classes begin the same way. The teacher explains why his class is fabulous. He mentions labs and the Regents, and any notion of joy or discovery vanishes. 

Students then take the same safety quiz they have taken since sixth grade. Don’t touch a hot plate. Read the label three times. And my least favorite, pull back hair.

I may have dreaded my science classes, but recently I’ve found myself almost, gasp … missing them. There was drudgery and the occasion metaphor of my classmates and me drowning in the Susquehanna come June but there was also wonder and excitement and little factoids to spit out at random times when you want to sound intelligent. 

My most recent science class was physics, taught by my brother-in-law. Regrettably I was in the class for only nine weeks before I decided to graduate a year early at the expense of physics. I did manage to retain one fact, though; we love, love, love, love, LOVE right triangles. 

I was a sophomore in chemistry. My biggest gripe with this class was the size of the subject matter. The smallest I comprehend is the pieces of a cell. Now I’m supposed to reconcile my understanding of a solid with constant molecular motion and mostly empty space? I slipped on some ice recently and it did not seem like empty space; quite the opposite. 

My sister asked my niece what comprises an atom. She said protons, neutrons ... and … croutons. Seems like a reasonable guess to me. 

I had a dream once last year of the periodic table coffee-bean-dispenser style. Each square had a lever and a chute. Thirsty? Place a bowl under hydrogen’s dispenser for twice as long as oxygen’s. Stir. 

In my first year of high school, I took Earth science. If I was to distill my spiritual views down to one word, it would be “cycles,” same for Earth science. This connection bolstered my appreciation for the class. 

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