Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Visit with Dr. Shakhashiri

What a thrill to meet Dr. Shakhashiri again!
I’m still giddy from meeting Dr. Shakhashiri again after all these years.  I am so thrilled to have had the chance to thank him for changing my life.  Okay that sounds really dramatic, but it’s true.  Without that workshop at Longwood College in the summer after my first year of teaching, I would have quit teaching chemistry.

Dr. Shakhashiri is dropping dry ice into these 1-liter grads.
Today I enjoyed another inspiring demonstration show from Dr. Shakhashiri at the 100th year celebration of the Connecticut Valley Section (CVS) of the ACS.  You can see where my love of the 1-liter graduated cylinder originated!  After every demonstration he performed, I turned to my colleague and said “We’re totally doing that one this year!”

 Watching Dr. Shakhashiri perform his demos is not a passive activity.  He engages every member of the audience with a steady stream of questions.  At the beginning of the talk Shakhashiri said, “Chemistry is the science of the familiar”.  He reinforces this statement with his demonstrations by relating the chemistry to everyday experiences.  He is a master at drawing out all the chemistry that his audience already knows but they didn’t know was chemistry.

Dr. Shakhashiri pours boiling water over dry ice to make fog.
Today feels like the right moment to tell the story of my second year of teaching.  I returned to my school in rural Virginia armed with new ideas and filled with determination to “do it right” this time.  I opened the year with an exploding hydrogen balloon on the first day.  My students were excited to come to class on day two.  I implemented a new micro scale lab curriculum in my classes, another part of the workshop at Longwood.  I tried some new classroom management techniques that I learned from long conversations with the other experienced teachers at the workshop.  I maintained contact with several of these teachers my second year to help me through the rough spots.  It was a completely different experience; I fell in love with teaching that year.  

Check out Dr. Shakhashiri's website.

1 comment:

  1. I bet you are still giddy, and the Pats are winning too, what more is there?