I am a chemist. I’ve been one since I had my first chemistry kit and mixed acids and salts and watched the results. Cool!
I didn’t know what science was until I was introduced to it in primary school by a visiting student teacher who took it upon himself to do science with us. He taught us the physics of lenses, the basis of photosynthesis, about the density of materials and the beauty resulting from performing paper chromatography with inks. The spark of interest was lit within me by that young man over 40 years ago. His passion was contagious…for me.
My mother used to provide bed and breakfast and once upon a time, for whatever reason, we had a metallurgist staying with us. I used to quiz him with questions and bugged him enough about what he did that one day he asked me whether I would like to visit his lab. At that age (9 yrs old I think) I imagined a Frankenstein lab, Tesla coils, large flasks of colored solutions…ah the imagination of youth. With the permission of my mother, and I have to assume his employer, he took me to his lab one evening and walked me through testing for ductility, corrosiveness and deposition coatings. I got to push buttons, watch metal snap and dissolve metals in liquids. No Tesla coils, no monsters but pure joy in being at play with the mysteries of science…demonstrated to me through the hands of someone who deeply understood and made it fun.
I have, of course, had many teachers over the years and the ones I remember, the ones who remain dear to my heart, are those with a passion for what they taught. These are the teachers who are willing to work after school to teach you more than the syllabus demands, those that have lunchtime clubs for us “geeks”, those that organize trips that immerse you further in what interests them and those that use their own passion to affect a child, stimulate a pupil and hopefully pay it forward with their inherited passions. I am fortunate that I have had a number of teachers who were willing to help me geek out…I wish there were more!!!
What I personally lack in teaching skills I hope I make up for in passion, in drive and a real want to evoke an emotional response in those I talk with about chemistry. I was trained as an NMR spectroscopist, became a cheminformatician and then moved into hosting chemistry data for the masses through the ChemSpider database. But I am proud to call myself ChemConnector! Whether I’m doing exploding Coke demos at our twins school, playing with Neodymium magnets with anyone who cares to handle them, educating the community about “inappropriate movie stars” versus scientists, or pushing for changes in the quality of online chemistry data, I hope that my passion comes through and just once in a while I create a convert to get interested and get active in science. If YOU have passion..then spread the love.
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