Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday Office Hours...

This is my first semester teaching!  Yay!  I've been appointed as a TA for the undergraduate Introduction to Geochemistry course.  My lab mate and previous research commander, Lisa Mayhew, is teaching the course for her first time.  Sounds like we'll have quite the experience becoming teachers together - she as a professor and me as a teaching assistant.

Yesterday, the students were introduced to nucleosynthesis - the term applied to all the processes through which the elements were formed, specifically concerning the creation of the nuclides of the elements from nuclei of hydrogen, helium, and lithium within stars following the Big Bang.  When Lisa was going over the material, I could see some faces in the class dropping (they looked like "deer in the headlights").  It's not that nucleosynthesis is hard to understand, but when we started talking about beta minus, beta plus, and alpha decay, the proton-proton chain, the triple-alpha process, and the CNO cycle in stars, the students definitely seemed to be thrown out of their comfort zones.  That's good, though.  The ones who really care will take that feeling of uncertainty and use it to drive their learning (of course, there are others who will either drop the course, or just hope they don't get quizzed too heavily on the material since they won't intend on studying - college is a silly business these days).

Here's hoping my office hours end up busy and full of interested students.  I'd love to become a resource for those who are learning this material for the first time.

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