Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lewis structures, VSEPR theory thoughts

My fourth time through this topic in lecture and lab is yet an other new beginning. I rewrote my handout AGAIN for the third time. My supplementary handout started out as a four-page document, evolved into an eight-page document and has now become a 12-page document. Whewwwww! Challenging. Every time I teach this topic I realize more and more exactly what the students don't understand. The strange thing is that out of the three textbooks I own on chemistry, only one actually explains it thoroughly from the lewis dot models to the VSEPR shapes to the dipole moments/polarity and overall symmetry of each molecule. Is this a new topic? I doubt it. I'm trying to understand why none of the book authors can sufficiently explain it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Power Of a Personal Network

Today I'd like to share about the importance of networking. There are endless workshops out there about how to speed network, work a room, meet important people and build your network. Many of these workshops are helpful, yet leave out a personal element that makes networking all the more relevant to the individual. This is a true story about how I was hired at my current job:

I have played the flute since age ten, piano since age five. Music is strictly a hobby for me although at various times in the past I've taken it more seriously than others. About four years ago I attempted to join a community orchestra here in San Diego. What a shock! If you want to play in a high-calibre, amateaur group here in southern Cal you need a PhD in music performance. I am not kidding- there are professionals competing for unpaid community orchestras around here. There is one orchestra in particular that attracts professionals and high-quality amateurs. You have to be a very good musician to join and you have to know the right people.

Three years ago I started taking flute from a former member of the San Diego Symphony. Last summer she invited me to perform my Quantz Concerto at the  First United Methodist Church in La Mesa. (She is music director at that church). One of the ushers was a teacher/professor at Southwestern College in  Chula Vista. He asked me about my day job and I told him I had taught some chemistry at community colleges and worked in industry around San Diego. Small world! He told me that he taught physics at Southwestern and gave me the name of the department chair. The rest is history.

I did not perform at that church to get a new job. It was the last thing on my mind. I strive to become a quality musician; even someday join a high-quality orchestra here in San Diego. My performance at that church was purely for furtherment in the musical world. However, I walked away with a new contact in the chemistry education world.

You never know who in your network can help you at any given time in your life. Networks,  skills, hobbies and ALL of the people you know are very important in your network.