Thursday, October 4, 2012

Indian Creek



There’s nothing like the beauty of a tranquil creek.  What's that stuff in the lower left corner?  Read on.

My daughter was chatting with her Physics professor yesterday.  She’s one of his best students and he was surprised to learn that she had only earned a “C” in high school Physics class.   It’s been twenty-five years, but she still remembers the teacher who felt that Physics was for guys.  The male students were given front row seats and received far more mentoring than the few female students, who were sent to the back of the room.   I had experienced something similar, when taking introductory chemistry courses in college.  Not only did I do poorly in the classes, I avoided reading and learning about anything that appeared to be related to the subject.    As if that were possible.

 We are, of course, chemical beings.   Oxygen and hydrogen (in other words, water) along with nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus and calcium account for almost ninety-nine percent of our body composition.  What’s the other one percent?  A few more chemicals!    Iron, oxygen, magnesium and silicon are the main constituents of our planet.   Nitrogen and oxygen dominate the air that we breathe.  Try getting away from that!

We are an industrial nation and the chemical industry, which had its U.S. origins in the early seventeenth century, plays a large part in our lives, touching everything from clothing to medication to spacecrafts.    Valued at more than $670 billion dollars, it also plays a key role in the nation’s economy.   Jobs generated by the chemical industry extend far beyond manufacturing to include careers in  finance, such as chemical investment banking and advisory positions for chemical mergers and acquisitions, which include insuring environmental regulation compliance.

Will my granddaughter become a chemist, a physicist or an economist?  At the age of ten, it is a bit too early to say.  We do, however, include these subjects in her homeschool curriculum in a way that makes them seem both interesting and feasible as career options.  She’s learned to budget her money, had fun building marshmallow molecules and learned how to scientifically crush cans. 

And that stuff in the left corner of the photo?   One is a drop of water as viewed through a microscope.   The other is a model of a water molecule.  Sorry, no marshmallows included!

1 comment :

  1. I like the overview, and the microscopic. I think it's a riot when people rant about how bad "chemicals" are.

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