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Posts Tagged ‘undergrad’

[#7] – Chemistry 102 – Introductory University Chemistry II

September 3, 2011 2 comments

Today’s post marks the second half of my introductory chemistry experience.  After living through a less than ideal outing of Chem 101, I was motivated to try harder, and to do better, in Chem 102.  I had begun to adopt my much ignored, and often overlooked, high school motto: “Fortuna audaces iuvat,” which is Latin for: “Fortune Favors The Strong.” (Or at least, I think it was my high school motto … Either that, or I saw it on a bumper sticker once)

 

Batteries (a.k.a. electrochemical cells) were one of the many things that we studied in this course.

 

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Preamble:

Alas, as I was still a naive first year, my outlook was plagued by a false sense of entitlement.  I believed, erroneously, that the harder I worked, in terms of effort, the better my grades would be.  I did not take into account the most important thing of all … working smart; studying intelligently.  One could read the textbook, scrutinizing every word, until the cows come home, and yet, not know a thing about how to successfully solve problems come exam time.  In order to achieve a truly remarkable grade in courses such as chemistry, a fair amount of time must be spent doing practice problems.  I wasn’t aware of this, at the time, however.  It was remiss of me, I know; I am all the more wiser, though.  Continue Reading >>

The Pre-School Jitters

August 28, 2011 8 comments

It’s that time again!  The new school year is lurking just around the corner.  Whether you’re a hardened veteran on the verge of completing your graduate studies, or a fledgling greenhorn about to begin high school, you’ll surely recognize one important thing.  That is, the fact that you are going to turn the pages, and inevitably experience an entirely new chapter in your life’s story.

Unless you possess the sentiments of a stone, then you will likely greet this change in your life with an amalgam of emotions.  You may feel anxious, excited, relieved, happy, nervous, or all of these at once.  This, I believe, is perfectly normal; especially for those who are making fairly large transitions, such as from high school to university.

 

Are you ready to start yet another year of school?!

 

I’ve recently spoken to a handful of prospective undergrads, and they’ve all told me, more or less, the same thing.  They are excited, nervous, and a tad intimidated.  My advice: the only way to successfully combat human inertia, is to run the gamut of human emotions.  In other words, I told them that people are naturally apprehensive and resistant to change.  Fortunately, we are highly adaptable creatures and when change is forced upon us, we can learn to deal with it.  In order to ‘deal with it’ smoothly, we need not bottle up our thoughts, questions, or emotions; rather, we should bring everything to the table, and realize that everyone is going through the same ordeal. Continue Reading >>

[#6] – Biology 108 – Introduction To Biological Diversity

August 23, 2011 28 comments

Firstly, I’d like to provide an explanation for my lack of entries as of late.  In order to expel any confusion: I did not abandon this blog haha; I’m still alive; I didn’t win the lottery, and no, I didn’t get abducted by aliens.  The truth is much more mundane: The final exam for my (condensed) summer physics course was a few days ago, and naturally, I’ve been busy studying, and solving countless problem sets in preparation for the test.

For those who are still curious: I received my Physics 102 – Final Course Grade today, and got an A+.  More on this in an upcoming post.

 

The world is full of flora and fauna; most of which we haven't gotten the slightest clue about.

 

Hey, wait!  This post wasn’t supposed to be about physics!  It’s supposed to be about a life science, the one and only, biology!  (My digressions get the best of me sometimes)  Now onto the review: Continue Reading >>

The Importance of Learning (Something … Anything)

August 5, 2011 4 comments
I hear and I forget.  I see and I remember.  I do and I understand.
Confucius
Chinese philosopher & reformer (551 BC – 479 BC)

 

Today, I’d like to take a moment to impart –what I believe to be– a slice of axiomatic wisdom.  When it comes to education, too often do we find ourselves being shoved through the ‘hoops’, like a cluster of mindless drones.  Whether we like it or not, we are expected, from a very young age, to partake, and to complete, a highly structured scholastic curriculum.  This system, in and of itself, is fine and dandy; my primary quibble, is how we are expected to learn from said curriculum.

 

To understand something, one needs to go beyond the superficial aspects (ie: purely memorizing).

 

For example, many science classes stress upon the rote memorization of facts, figures, and equations.  Success in the classroom, therefore, depends upon one’s ability to digest, and ultimately, to regurgitate these snippets of information.  But do we actually learn anything from this process?  I am one to believe that we frequently pay too much attention to the superfluous details.  As a consequence, we fail to understand the big picture; the grand scheme of things.  In other words, we cannot see the forest for the trees.  (The true beauty of science is not found in the names, dates, or equations themselves.  The true beauty is found when we come to realize how and why these equations, theories, etc. seem to be important to humanity as a whole) Continue Reading >>

[#5] – Sociology 100 – Introductory Sociology

July 28, 2011 5 comments

Prior to my matriculation to the UofA, I had the choice between registering in either: Introductory Sociology, or Introductory Anthropology.  As a naive high-school student, my knowledge base in regards to these subjects were nil to none.  The thought of having to take either one of these courses spawned an implacable uncertainty that I just couldn’t shake.

*Note: After a while of wavering, I finally chose to take Introductory Sociology.  My decision (if you could call it that) was based mainly on the grounds that I could incorporate it into my class schedule easier than Anthropology.

 

Sociology is a (very) broad Social Science.

 

Which class would prove more interesting?  Which one would it be easier to succeed in?  How difficult is the content?  I now realize that such fruitless questions yield fruitless answers.  The only way to know for sure –to quell the uncertainty,– is to dive headfirst and … take the course!

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Preamble:

As stated above, I had no prior knowledge about Sociology.  Frankly, the term hadn’t even been registered in my lexicon, until I heard it in around grade 11.  Before taking the class, I deduced that because it contained the root: “socio,” then it would probably be related to social studies?  Maybe?  Beyond my haphazard speculations, all I knew was that … I knew nothing at all. (Ergo, the headfirst dive begins!) Continue Reading >>

The Importance of Scheduling

July 23, 2011 1 comment

Ahh yes, the almighty calendar.  Both a blessing and a curse.  Since its inception, it has provided people with the ability to peer into the future; to map out the days, months, and even years ahead.  It supplies us with an ever-present backbone of rigidity in which we can use to successfully meander through our hectic lives.

On the flip-side, it is this very rigidity that, at times, constricts us.  An inflexible calendar, much like an inflexible backbone, does not allow for much spontaneity, does it?  Henceforth, we must strike a balance between the two.  An ideal schedule ought to contain a certain degree of rigidness, coupled with an element of plasticity!  Who’s with me?!  …  Just me?! .. Ummm, yeah, well .. I’ll just carry on then …

Anyways, all verbosity aside, today’s post is going to focus on none other than my (frenetic) first year timetable.  You should note that: I was given full reign over the construction of my schedule.  The times of the courses, and even the courses themselves were selected solely by moi (at the end of grade 12).  Looking back at my decisions, I can safely ask myself: “What was I thinking?!”  It appears as though I was attempting to brew the perfect recipe for disaster … I mean, who in their right mind would select only morning labs?  *You will see exactly what I’m referring to in the images below. 

 

This was my Fall 2009 Schedule ... Ain't it a beaut'?

 

This was my Winter 2010 Schedule. Whose lame-brained idea was it to choose three 8:00 a.m. labs? Oh yeah, it was my idea.

 

Now that you’ve witnessed this menacing monstrosity with your own eyes, let’s begin with our analysis.  Before I go on any further, however, I have to point out that I’m not particularly a morning person.  I would very much prefer to sleep late than to wake up early.  (I know quite a few people who are entirely opposite!  Go figure!) Continue Reading >>

[#4] – Math 113 – Elementary Calculus I

July 19, 2011 5 comments

At this very moment, I am taking an introductory physics course in beautiful British Columbia.  If you’ve been dutifully following my entries (in chronological order of course), the previous sentence should seem rather precarious.  After all, what brings an UofA student from Alberta, to a different university in a different province?! (In true cliffhanger fashion, you’ll have to wait for the answer to this question in an upcoming post)

 

Math is a language that helps us understand both the physcial, and the abstract dimensions of reality.

 

Anyways, you must also be wondering: “what does any of this nonsense have to do with today’s entry on elementary calculus?”  Well, to put it simply, today’s physics lecture dealt with the properties of electric flux.  In order to understand such a concept, one should be, at the very least, acquainted with the fundamentals of calculus.  Without such knowledge, it would be difficult, nigh impossible, to develop a solid comprehension of the subject.  What I’m getting at is: sometimes, even if we don’t like it, math can be used as a language, or stepping stone, for deciphering physical constructs (ie: electric flux). Continue Reading >>

[#3] – English 122 – Texts and Contexts

July 12, 2011 2 comments

English, at the University level, is a member of what I like to call: The Terrible Two.  “The Terrible Two,” or TTT for short, consists of two vehemently dreaded courses that many undergraduates are required to take at some point during their academic careers.  TTT is comprised of the aforementioned English, and its diametrically opposed ‘evil’ sibling, Physics.  Today’s post will be directed exclusively towards English … I will have to tackle its uncouth relative on a later date.  Let’s spare no time and get started!

English Class ... whyz its importent ne wayz?

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Preamble:

As I stated in the opening paragraph, for whatever reason, countless students attach a negative stigma to English courses in general.  I have observed that this mindset is adopted very early in life; possibly as early as elementary (primary) school.  Perhaps people don’t like it because they believe it is far too subjective; maybe they’ve had a poor teacher once, or twice, or thrice …  The bottom line, however, is that there are an innumerable amount of reasons for people’s overall disdain for this subject.  With that said, the only thing we can know for certain, is the fact that many students simply do not want to take an English course (but must, because of university policy; prerequisite requirements; etc.) Continue Reading >>

[#2] – Chemistry 101 – Introduction to University Chemistry I

July 5, 2011 4 comments

Today’s post will be centered around my first ever university chemistry course (a.k.a. Chem 101).  In all honesty, Chem 101 was my toughest class in first year (barring Stats 141, which I will talk about at a later date) – I found it very difficult to make the transition from high-school chemistry to university chemistry.  Even to this day, I’m still not completely certain why this was the case; however, I do have a sneaking suspicion of where I went wrong, albeit not a definitive one.

A standard periodic table for a standard chemistry course.

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Preamble:

Chemistry (more specifically, inorganic chem) was always one of my stronger subjects in high-school.  I enjoyed learning about it all throughout my grade-school years, and even managed to obtain my school’s highest mark award for grade 11 chem.  Given this background, it should not be surprising that I was rather disappointed with my relatively poor performance in university chemistry …  The following should shed some light on the reason(s) for my discombobulation in this course! Continue Reading >>

The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

July 1, 2011 4 comments

Although the saying: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” may seem trite and clichéd, I do believe that it is true.  I mean, an activity that comprises one third of our entire lives must have at least some merit to it!  Despite the ever fervent debates in the scientific community about the nature and purpose of sleep, most scientists will agree that humans need it in order to function efficiently and effectively throughout the day (or night for that matter).  Simply put, monophasic sleep is a paramount portion of our natural circadian cycles; something that has been ingrained within our evolutionary history for many millions of years.

 

Our natural biological clocks don't take lightly to attempts at circumvention.

 

You would think that, being the educated bunch that we are, we would know by now that a good night’s sleep is just something too important to pass up on.  This, unfortunately, is not the case.  Many people that I come in contact with, whether it be at school or elsewhere, seem to be lacking a fair amount of shut-eye.  In fact, it’s all too common to find people nodding off in class, on the bus, on a bench, etc.  Granted, the majority of us have very busy lives; busy to the point that we have to constantly put sleep to the wayside in favor of more stimulating activities such as studying, work, etc.  Incidentally, this is when ‘sleep-debt’ multiplies and grows until it becomes too taxing for us to handle.  Hence why we occasionally end up seeking slumber in the most unorthodox of places.  This is merely nature’s way of helping us deal with the inevitable (nature cannot be beaten!) Continue Reading >>