Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Science Labs = Boogeyman

I'm sorry for not updating. School started up again and I had to change a few classes. Now I'm stuck, for the time being, with two science labs. (cue the ominous music) Seriously, I *love* the sciences, but these classes are killing me. I took some very basic, remedial style classes before coming here so that I'd be prepared for the basics. It still didn't help me erase 12 years of homeschooling "science" from my head. University level science courses require a different level of thinking and looking at the world. I'll get through it; I'll just be spending more time with my head in a book and less time on the internet. And, as a word of advice for anyone thinking of taking two labs in one quarter/semester: Don't! I'm not a med student for a reason. :)

I haven't heard from my father or mother in weeks. I spoke to my brother, though, and apparently I'm enemy number one. The sister that tried leaving about a year ago has left again. She left with a boy and it's all my fault or something. I hope she's okay and if she reads this- I hope she contacts me.

I guess the point of this post was to say that I'm still alive- just busy. Thanks for all of the inquiries and concern.


  1. Make sure you check out your school's math/science center if you have one. As a science major in undergrad (now a science grad student) I worked at one, and was often able to help students understand material better and faster than they could by just reading the chapter again for the 10th time because I could pinpoint which concepts weren't clicking. Plus, usually the math/sci center is free!

  2. Definitely look into a tutor. I found it to be a HUUUUGE help.

  3. How is your coffee stash? Need a refill?

  4. Oops. Sending up prayers for your kid Sis...

  5. As an English major, I can't imagine two science labs at once! But I hope you'll share your analysis with us readers at some point. My geology class in particular played a huge role in thinking critically about what I had been told all my life about the age of the earth, the Flood, etc. Incredibly eye-opening!

    Best wishes for your sister. I hope she finds a safe place to process and heal!

  6. You've got a lot on your plate and school is job #1 right now. Keep plugging away and you'll get through....and YES to a tutor!!! Just a couple of sessions can do wonders for getting your brain wrapped around formerly cloudy topics.

    Your sister leaving is not your responsibility.

    Your family is larger than the one you were born into.

  7. OUCH. Like Naomi, I'm an English major, and neither science nor math were my friends. Difficult as the semester may be, though, you're poised to learn a LOT, which is never a bad thing.

    Hang in there, and do NOT worry about your blog unless you've got the time and the urge. We aren't going anywhere. :-)

  8. Ooof. Another English major (history minor), and as much as I liked my science and math TEACHERS in college...I wonder if they included "positive attitude" or "likability" as part of the grade. My brain just isn't as good at the math, and as much as science in general interests me, the classes tend to go a bit more in-depth than I can handle. I sympathize with you there. Don't worry so much about blogging as school.

    I hope your sister contacts you, and that she finds a safe place to find her way in life.

  9. Good luck! Two labs sounds crazy daunting, even to those of us who grew up learning "normal" science.

    Have you heard of Khan Academy? I just learned about it a couple weeks ago and am now obsessed--there are a zillion videos about all kinds of topics (including some biology, chemistry, physics and astronomy) that can help fill in gaps in knowledge. Here's the link: http://www.khanacademy.org/

  10. The only thing that got me through my biology class in college was taking those study guides that the professor's hand out and studying all of the concepts and terms on them for eight hours the day before the tests. The labs should be a little easier. Just show up and follow the schedule for the day. Try to get a really good lab partner too.

  11. Good luck to you! I loved science courses, but only those that didn't involve a lot of math. Math is not my friend--it's why I majored in history. A good tutor can really help, though.

    I'm sorry you're at the top of your family's not-good-person list, but your sister's leaving is not your fault, period. I hope she contacts you.

    Blog when you can, please, and have a good semester. Or is your school on the quarter system?

  12. I was a science major so it was common to have 2 labs. It's time consuming as they're longer than a normal class, but I think you can manage. I'm trying to remember if I ever had 3, and I bet that I did, but just can't quite recall. LOL I hope your sister is okay, I'm sure it's hard for your parents to watch how poorly their parenting methods have turned out, but the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.

  13. Hey Ruth - glad to see you posting again, even if briefly....I am a science major, so my advice to you is to make friends with your TA's and profs...they have office hours for a reason, and it's always been my experience that if you come with an attitude of "I really want to be able to understand this" you will always be well accepted. Too many kids just come with the "tell me what's on the test and what the answer is" attitude, that I've found that genuine curiosity and investment in the class is always refreshing (sorry, I've TA's too many entitled idiots, haha).

    1. I agree. I wasn't a science major of any kind and I was lucky to have labs that never gave me grief, but a lot of my classmates really benefited from office hours and tutoring programs. Also, if you have any friends who are science majors or who did well in the same classes/labs, be study buddies. Two labs are totally doable, you just need to reach out when you feel confused or overwhelmed. In a weird way, it might be kind of a blessing, since keeping busy is a pretty good medicine when you're feeling low. I know it works for me because when I have a lot of free time, I over-think what's bumming me out and that just makes me feel worse.

      As for your sister, good for her! I hope she contacts you too. If she's reading this-- hi, Ruth's sister! You did the right thing and you are super brave. Your family doesn't see it that way, but they're not right about everything (Actually, they're not-right about much of anything) and there are a whole bunch of people who support you. Don't be afraid to reach out, because most people in this world are good and will do their best to help you.

  14. Definitely talk to your professors and TAs, and take advantage of any resources the school has available. My wife is an English professor, and the number of students who don't take advantage of resources that really could have helped them is... I'm torn between "tragic" and "appalling".

    And, as pretty much everyone else has said, don't feel any pressure to update the blog. You've got plenty of things that rank higher on the priority list.

    Good luck, and good luck to your sister as well - and the rest of your family, for that matter. Let us know if there's anything we can do to help out, okay?

  15. Good to see you. I am a professor at a university and too often students come to find me for help too late. My job is to help a student learn and I think too many students think they will be judged if they show up and ask for help. In my opinion, I don't care who you are or where you came from, but my job is to help you do your best. Professors and advisors usually know about resources on campus to find help.
    You may also want to privately talk to your professor if you think they will be understanding about where you are coming from academically. At times, I have carved out time to really help pull a student up to speed if I know they are trying hard, but are working to pull themselves up from a deficit. Unless you tell me, I can't tell a difference between the student working 50 hours a week to catch up and the student who shows up hung over and doesn't care. I usually hang the latter out to dry (literally) but for the former, I will sit down and go over lectures again, or schedule times to explain things to them they may have missed in class.

  16. Make sure you go to office hours for your professors - office hours are their for a reason. I was a science major, too, and labs are kind of the tip of the ice berg, LOL!

    Good luck!

    -Lauren H.

  17. Science! One of the things that makes teaching science so important really is that you're showing the mindset, rather than the facts of what you learn. The scientific method (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method) is a beautiful, elegant thing.

    I don't know if you take book rec, but I strongly suggest (and would happily send you a copy) of George Johnson's Ten Most Beautiful Experiements. It's a very slim book that looks at what Johnson reckons are the most beautiful scientific experiments. Because he's looking at some very old discoveries as they were being discovered, the science tends to be much more accessible (it helps that he's a good writer). It's also kind of shocking just because there are things in it that you know, and it's weird to think there was a tiem when we didn't know these things that are so clear, so much a part of the world. Veins and arteries both carry blood! White light can be split into colours! What fire is!

    I don't necessarily agree with all his choices (he leaves out Mendal, which is just plain wrong), but I think the ones in there are interesting and I can see why he likes them.

    Oliver Sacks is another great writer who writes about lots of fun topics. The Mind's Eye is a nice one-- he talks about perception and vision (people that lose the ability to recognise what they see, how different blind people visualise the world, three-dimensional vision, "faceblindness", where people can't recognise faces). He lost the sight in one eye, which meant losing his depth perception and there's a lovely chapter that focuses on a woman who had no depth perception and then was able to get it back, and how amazing things seemed to her.

    And for what it's worth, in my experience, professors, especially in the sciences, are often reall keen on you understanding ("Sea cucumbers are so amazing! Please let me tell you why!" "You think those are interesting? They're nothing on amoeba!")

  18. Glad you're ok Ruth, if over busy with school! Hope your sister is ok too and feels she can contact you or your brother.

  19. In my experience,instructors are VERY willing to help you pass their class and offer as much assistance as possible. I have a feeling if you explain your science background (or lack of background) he or she would be very happy to help you out. I had a Bioanthropology professor who would have considered it an honor and a priviledge to "set you straight." He was a lot of fun, and a practicing Catholic. BTW - you will find that the major religions believe in evolution. It's the right-wing-off-shoots that have the issue. Unfortunately, in my opinion, because of all the problems in organized religion, people seem to gravitate to the non-denominational churches. It has been my experience that they have even more made up rules than Catholics. (Not meaning to offend any Catholics. I grew up Cathoilic. Just an observation.) Anyway, as they say, "they truth will set you free." Tell your instructors of your deficit. I am sure they will put you on track! -PAM

  20. I'm so glad your sister managed to escape, and I will pray that she contacts you. Remember, even if she is having sex with the boy, it's just sin. In the extremely conservative community, virginity is an idol. While they tend to say that all sins are equal, their actions show that they believe sex outside of marriage is the unforgivable sin. It's not.

  21. Don't worry about not having the right thinking. My cousin is in law school right now, and she told me the other day that the way she thinks is changing, and it's pretty cool.

    By taking the classes you'll be able to think about science differently then you did in the past, that's part of what college is about: learning to appreciate things from a new/different angle.

  22. Ruth,

    As a scientist (and someone who had more than one science class/labs each semester), the best advice I can give you is to KEEP UP with your science classes. Do the assignments for every class in a timely manner - if you fall behind, it's hard to catch up. Also, read the lab material before class so you have an idea of what you are doing before you go to the lab, and can be prepared with questions if you don't understand something.

    As others have said - don't be afraid to use all the resources available at your school.

  23. I hope your sister contacts you soon. She's going to need all the support she can get. How did she get a boyfriend, with Darth Daddy keeping the kids under lock and key? Is he a fundie kid as well escaping?

    Ahhh...SCIENCE!!! I've had some great teachers and I've had some cruddy teachers. I had a geology professor who was apparently one of the top ones in her field...but she was a terrible teacher. But one of her grad students was amazing. The labs can be a lot of fun though. Keep up the good work!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.