Relatively early on in my teaching at Penn State, I realized that I could teach material as difficult as I wanted to as long as I enabled my students. For many years I taught honors introductory chemistry and students not only learned quantum numbers but they solved the Schrodinger wave equation in one dimension—something that continues to be done in this class. How did this come to pass?
My message for 2021 is to be open to that magical moment each day. Let it find you. Or better yet, be that moment for someone else. Tell somebody, “You made my day.”
I was curious about what it’s like to be a student during COVID so I gathered some data. I put the following Nudge out to my CHEM 110B class, “I want to write a piece. ‘Student Perspectives on Learning During COVID.’ Can you write me two sentences on how COVID has affected your learning—one good and one bad”. I got twenty-two responses. Here are some highlights with my thoughts at the end. I think you will find them pretty revealing.
It’s a few days before Thanksgiving and it struck me that I have a lot to be thankful for.
This month I’m pleased to team up with Lily Mawby, president of the Graduate Student Association (GSA), to bring you this message. The GSA is in its sixth year as a recognized student organization and is continually evolving.
A PhD is a marathon. It’s not the fifty yard dash. But, in the time of COVID, a semester, or even a month, can seem like a marathon. The other day at executive meeting, Dean Langkilde talked to us about burnout in the College. This can happen to anyone at any time. I wanted to share my thoughts on this subject. I’ll keep this message short and suggest a solution.
As we start the new semester, much remains uncertain. We have 40,000 new students now on campus and we are in the midst of a pandemic. The University has implemented its testing efforts and we are hoping it goes well, but none of us knows for sure.
We value the empiricism that leads to these truths, and we appreciate how they help humanity. So it is with this backdrop that I look with bewilderment at plots that show the US having nearly 1,500 cases of COVID-19 per million residents, while others have 100 or fewer cases per million residents, including Canada and all of Europe. As of today, more than 150,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus.
I came to understand that there can be inherent beauty in writing, that you can convey your voice through writing once you find it. I like to think that my struggles made me a better writer and gave me the patience to be a good teacher.
Here we are in the time of Coronavirus and we have to remember how wrong each of us can be. We can’t let our guard down or think we are in control of the situation.
Getting our ducks in a row, avoiding surprises, being absolutely sure. These aren’t such bad things. I don’t want to run out of gas on a long road trip. I don’t want to show up at the hotel for a seminar trip and find I’ve forgotten my shoes (yes, it happened). And I don’t want my students to run out of lab supplies. Being sure, being secure, being confident. Much of the time, these are good things.
Let’s face it scientists, our public image isn’t always great. The media often portrays us as mad scientists, on the fringe of society, and more than a little bit socially awkward. Take, for example, The Big Bang Theory, which I secretly love. Truth be told, however, science is a social enterprise.