Sunday, April 22, 2007

Update is coming

Lots of things have been going on, and this next week is busy too, so I will update next weekend. Look forward to details on CPW, ring delivery (we got our brass rats!), tests, spring weekend, and more.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech

Pray for the students and their families fromVirginia Tech. At least thirty students were shot during classes today by a man who then killed himself.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

New Friends!

Being in Simmons is somewhat difficult at times because there are not many course 10 majors in my year. I go to office hours a lot to get help, and two weeks ago I finally found a nice study group! I somehow wound up at Bexley after 10.301 office hours, and a bunch of people from my classes who I have seen but did not really know, were all studying there. It is much more fun to work with people, something I had somewhat forgotten, so I enjoyed working with them on the pset. Now I have a great group of friends in my major and we all help each other out.

A little while before spring break I also played board games somepeople. We played Risk, Settlers of Catan, and Robo Rally, all which are very addictive and fun. We stayed up late playing games and just laughing and talking. I want to do something like that more often.

There have also been quite a few parties up on Gus’ floor, so I’ve gone to some of them and that has also been fun.

A day at a time

There are some weeks that you just have to go through one day at a time, trying to survive until the next day. Last week was one of them.

We had a horrible 10.213 pset that hardly anyone finished. My group and I went to office hours every night, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and still could not finish. The pset was due on Thursday. Most of our psets are not like this at all, and are very manageable. We had spent over ten hours on it by Wednesday night, but I still had to finish my 10.301 pset and I had a test I needed to study for (5.310, which seemed to go well, by-the-way), so I stopped doing the pset around 12:00 am. Most of us still had one whole problem left (out of three), and a few parts from other questions. Let’s just say we are not very fond of the professor right now for that class. He is teaching the second half of the course, and it’s all completely theory now and it makes no sense to anyone. Our book is not helpful, so I went to the library to get a better one. The library didn’t have the one I wanted, but hopefully I found a good substitute. We’ll see how studying goes tomorrow with it.

So, last week was not very fun. The good thing is that this weekend is CPW, which I will write about soon, so the next entry should be much more positive :-).

Annoyances and Bad Things about MIT

It is slowly getting warmer in Boston. We didn’t really have a bad winter, but it has been in the lower forties and thirties lately, sometimes even higher, which means that spring is coming soon! I’m glad, since the last few months have been frustrating at times. Although I wish I had more people visiting my blog, like the official MIT bloggers, there are some pros about not being associated with MIT. For example, I have much more leeway to talk about the cons of MIT.

I did ok on my first batch of tests. As I said earlier, hardly anyone finished the 10.301 test, and I ended up doing above average on it (the average was 37), so that was good. I got a 96 on my first 5.310 lab, so hopefully that trend will continue. So far 5.310 is getting easier, we don’t always stay the full four hours in order to finish everything, which is extremely nice. 8 hours of lab per week is a lot of time. My first 10.213 test was not good at all, the average was 47 (but the prof was aiming for an average of 65—oops), and I scored below average. I was extremely frustrated because I know the information well, but coupled with some stupid errors and really harsh grading (hardly any partial credit, which I am not happy about) meant my score was not very good. I’m going to try and get the test re-graded, and hopefully I’ll be able to get some points back. My HASS class is going fine, I keep improving after each story so hopefully I’ll be able to get a good grade in that class.

I’ve been getting frustrated with homework grading lately (for both 10.301 and 10.213). I don’t feel like the graders are giving very much partial credit. There were some parts to certain questions that I got zero credit for, and I know that some of the stuff I wrote down was correct. How much sense does it make to give someone the same grade as a person who did not even attempt the problem, especially if not all of it is wrong? Homework is not a huge part of the overall grade in my classes, but every little bit helps. In the meantime, I’ll keep doing the best I can on the psets, and if this grading trend continues, I may go speak to the professor! It is not a good feeling when you spend hours on a pset and then come to find you get no credit for some of it.

What are some other things I’m not happy about? This semester I am not having as much fun in my classes. I still enjoy 10.301, and 5.310 is ok, but I am not a huge fan of 10.213. The professor is a solid lecturer, nothing special, but she does explain things pretty well. My qualm does not have much to do with her. I’m just frustrated because the way the material is presented, it is not very practical. I want REAL problems, not a bunch of partial derivatives and calculations. Some of the stuff they give us is just plain busy work. The frustrating part though is that many classes at MIT are like this. I’ve seen it in other classes too. Some stuff is just too theoretical. Theory is all good and fine, and sometimes I find it quite interesting, but when I’m learning something like thermodynamics I want something more applicable. Don’t get me wrong, I think learning the theory behind something is very important, but do they have to present it in such a boring and mathematical way? I was very happy when one class, our prof pulled out a fire extinguisher and told us about expanding gases, and she also did a very good lecturer about refrigeration, so why can’t more lectures be that way? It’s so much easier to understand the information when you can relate it to something in real life. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen just at MIT, it happened in high school and I know it happens at other colleges. I just think it is something that could be improved in general. Even though 10.301 can also be abstract and difficult, I find the problems are interesting, sort of like 8.022.

So I think that some of my classes could definitely be less theoretical and more practical. Overall though, I still really like MIT and I know I’m getting an amazing education and will be able to solve tough problems.

Anyways…that’s my rant.

Published At Long Last

My research paper has finally been published in the Journal of Chemical Education! It's in the May issue, and is available online now. My paper was accepted in the winter of 2005, so publishing takes a while. I started the process in the fall of my senior year of high school. The first time I submitted it, the paper was rejected, but then I edited it and sent it in again the next fall.

Go to the JChemEd website to check it out!

I don't think you can read the paper without a subscription, so if you want to read it, go here and you can download the pdf under the "Downloads" section:

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Chocolate pancakes

This is very random, but on Monday there was a study break and they had chocolate fondue. And pancakes and french toast. Eating pancakes and french toast with chocolate and syrup is heavenly. You should try it.

I'll do more updates later about how my life is going at MIT. This is a busy week, with two psets, a paper, a test, and my prefrosh for CPW comes tomorrow too!