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Chemistry benefits linger beyond the classroom

With shaky hands, the lab coat-clad student adds ammonium acetate to the water in the test tube. He mixes it up, then feels the glass. The reaction of the chemical causes the mixture to become cold. He gets out his lab sheet and writes down his observations.

Most high school students experience chemistry class, revered by some, feared by others. And, as a result, interest in medicine and the sciences is often sparked by high school chemistry. A wide range of careers opportunities are available to those students who go on and major in chemistry.

Chemists create life saving inventions such as airbags or tempered glass that does not shatter. They have technological experience that aides them in finding and solving problems. Although chemists must retain knowlegde of basic sciences, their job consists of much more than that. They attempt to better society by analyzing, experimenting, and inventing.

?Chemistry is used in various things as we work,? Ralph Aleman, a Fresno surgical technician, said. ?Chemistry is used to numb the skin when we do surgical procedures. The chemcial we use is xylocaine, in the form of a liquid and a gel. It is similar to the numbing using in dentistry. One thing I have learned through chemistry is to be mindful and read labels. Some chemicals can be very hazardous. For example, amonia and bleach, when mixed, are very caustic and could burn lungs if inhaled.”

Chemistry originated in the form of alchemy, which involved trying to change metals to gold and mixing strange chemical concoctions. Chemistry eventually evolved into a precise, exact science used by people for a multitude of purposes.

Careers which rely on a background in the sciences and, especially chemistry, range from anesthesiology and cardiology, criminology and dentistry, genetic engineering and pharmacy to a mirobiologist, sanitation inspector and food services, just to name a few.

Although some say chemistry is a lot of work which does not seem related, Chris Tharpe, ?08, enjoys the challenge.

?I like chemistry because I have a knack for it,? Tharpe said, ?and it is amazing to view the effects when two chemicals are mixed and react.?

Chemistry benefits everyone who takes it, not only those who would pursue it for a career. Chemistry lends itself to learning science, and also readies students for college courses and teaches critical and analytical thinking.

?It makes us aware of that which we are made of,? David McEntee, chemistry teacher, said. ?It?s a study of the building blocks of God?s creation.?

McEntee cautions though that chemistry is not a child?s game. Using chemicals requires precise steps. McEntee remembers an incident in 1985 where a student learned this concept the hard way.

The girl wore a longhaired wispy sweater and reached across a Bunsen burner. A spark went up her sleeve and to her hair, but McEntee was able to put the fire out.

?She was more scared of me jumping on her (to put the fire out) than by the fire,? McEntee added. ?If she had hairspray in her hair, that could have been more dangerous. She shouldn?t have reached a Bunsen burner with that sweater on. She could have been badly burned.?

Chemistry teaches chemical reactions and the periodic table, but students gain much more. They learn how to think carefully, work diligently, and retain knowledge of the smallest measures of God?s creation.

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  • M

    Maestra AdameAug 26, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I think Spanish II class is the perfect class for Christmas caroling. You have the energy, enthusiasm and charisma to perform for the elementary school, so there.

    Furthermore, I have decided that this will become a tradition for my Spanish II class, so future Spanish II classes be ready to “CANTAR” for the Christmas 2009.

    Feliz Navidad,

    Maestra Adame

  • L

    Luke DeGrootAug 26, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I like the enthusiasm that all those students have. The best way to lead is by example, and they look like they are having a good time! That probably brought some good Espa

  • D

    Dolly, Dana, BrookieAug 26, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Wow, Christmas caroling. Fun! Well, Dana and Brookie are in French, but Dolly is in Spanish! She would be excited for that!! Haha.