Inspiring, educating and expanding thinking

Reflection of my classroom:

High school?!

I have to say I was extremely nervous to be at a high school. I have perception of high school students to be crazy, not caring and filled with hormones that are ready to burst. I was especially worried after being at a middle school last year where a lot of the teaching time was dedicated to disciplining the students (and my teacher last year was excellent!!).  However, my experience and the students have been great, so far!

This is my second time in GK-12 and I am very happy to have Kate Parker as my teacher. She teaches chemistry and physical science at Gardner Edgerton High School. Kate is very excited to integrate inquiry based learning and tries to incorporate it into her classes.

One of the most interesting parts of the class has been the way the students are allowed to use technology! Many of the students are taking notes on their phones. They also take pictures of the board and sometimes take videos of the lessons. The second part I really enjoy is how Kate encourages her students to use the classroom for clues and help (very important skill for life). This week I saw the students taking a test in Chemistry. They were given a periodic table and a dry erase maker to write on the periodic table. They can also get up to look at the periodic table in the back of the room. Besides that Kate integrates examples that allow the students to “experience” science. In her physical science class she had the students have a “push a war” (pushing tug of war). The students pushed a table, one person on each side. This example was relating balanced and unbalanced forces. All of this was very controlled. The students were very engaged too!

I am excited to work with Kate and the students this year!

A little about me and my research:

Here are my AND, BUT, THEREFORE statements describing my research at KU (I got a little carried away). Please let me know which you like the best:

Biological materials are highly ordered, complex and tough  AND when biological materials (such as cartilage) are damaged replacement maybe necessary AND hydrogels would be an excellent replacement to tissues because hydrogels are made of primarily water (95-99% water) BUT their mechanical properties — such as brittleness or elasticity — are relatively poor and tend to be soft and fracture easily THEREFORE I am creating tough hydrogels which mimic biological materials and will provide advances to many fields, in particular tissue engineering.

Hydrogels are water loving three dimensional materials AND they can be manipulated to have unique properties. Hydrogels can be used to replace biological materials BUT manipulating hydrogels requires the understanding of the inner mechanisms in order to form improved properties (tough, elastic and non-toxic) THEREFORE I am doing research at the molecular level.

Polymers are long chain molecules and are found all around us (for example: plastic bags, hair, DNA, rubbers) AND hydrogels are interconnected polymers that love water (for example: jello, contact lenses) AND hydrogels can be created in a way to form tough networks BUT understanding how to compose hydrogels to produce strength is necessary THEREFORE I am doing research to understand the molecular mechanisms of hydrogels.

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2 Responses to Inspiring, educating and expanding thinking

  1. Robert C Everhart says:

    I like that you have multiple statements about your research. It feels more researchy!

    There are things that appeal to me personally in all 3 of these statements. The engineer in me likes the part in the first one where you talk about how hydrogels could be applied to help people if only we understood them better. The literary part of me likes the second, because it is more succinct. (I like Hemingway.) The third one appeals to my inner philosopher, because it seems to logically build an argument: this and this and this, but that; therefore this.

    The aquatic biologist in me wants to mix them all up in a mud pie and take a representative sample. Not sure if that helps, but it might be the most fun.

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