Thursday, August 28, 2008

First week of school!

I survived my first week of school. It was an exciting time, full of new experiences, old memories, a few surprises, and some great learning.

As I mentioned in my previous message regarding the first day of class, my technical communications course is uneventful for this first week. I submitted my assignment early and am now waiting to hear back on the score.  I have the second week's assignment complete, but will not submit it until I receive my results from the first assignment.

The main excitement for the week was my biology lecture and lab on Tuesday night. I went to campus early as I was excited to get started. I also wanted to time myself for riding my bike to campus, locking it up in the bike barn and then walking to class. The result is a 10-15 minute bike ride then a 5 minute walk to class.  I passed through the student union building to see about food options. I had brought my own sandwich to eat before class, but I won't always have one. When I finally arrived at the lecture building I realized that there was a coffee shop, sandwich shop, and cafeteria in that building as well. Wow, things have changed since my original school days. Granted that Boise State University is over 10 times the size of my alma mater Willamette University. I would later find a sandwich shop in the science building as well!

As I entered the lecture room for class, I could tell I was hanging out with a bunch of science geeks.  There were 40 people in the room before anyone actually spoke to anyone else. I resemble that remark! I liked the professor and the class.  The professor was very animated and engaging. He not only presented the material from the textbook, but also applied personal experiences and perspectives on the content.  He made his expectations for the class very clear. One surprise is that our quizzes will cover chapters from the text which were covered in the previous lecture and the chapter that has not yet been covered in class. I haven't experienced this approach before.  It clearly sets the expectation that you should keep up to date on your reading.  Not to worry, I am already 6 chapters ahead, but can I stay that way. This first lecture focused on the study of biology, the definition of life, and the philosophy behind the scientific method. Interesting topics since there has been quite a lot of debate recently about the definition of life. Virus' have always been a topic of discussion as they are considered not technically alive from a biology perspective. With the recent discovery of a virus that attacks other viruses, this becomes even more contentious.  The textbook is clear that the cell is the building block of all life, our professor is not so sure.

After the lecture I proceeded over to the lab class. The graduate student teaching the lab is studying raptor biology, he indicated that we could talk raptors any time we wanted. The lab was fast moving, covering 4 different topics today and setting up our semester long experiment into population and resources.  My lab team is a diverse group with a junior chemistry major, a student returning to classes after a few years off, and a non-traditional student like me.  It should be interesting.

I had an interesting experience on my way home. After the lab I rushed over to the bike barn to get my bike, minutes before they close.  Hopefully that 10pm closing isn't a problem for me this semester.  My lab gets out at 9:50pm. Anyway, I was riding home through the park.  This path is narrow and twisty with posts, curbs, and sections of dirt here and there. I have a light on the bike, but it gives a sense of tunnel vision restricting my ability to see beyond what is right in front of me. I didn't know the path well enough to predict which turns were coming.  Of course, I was traveling a little faster than I should have been! No crash, but a close call here and there. I will have to be a bit more careful next week.

On Wednesday night I spent way too much time writing up my pre and post lab assignments for lab 1 and the pre lab assignment for next week.  I will have to get more efficient.  I am confident that I put more effort into mine than anyone else in the class. Definitely more effort than I would have put into it when I was first in school.

Thursday's biology lecture covered the chemical building blocks of life. This was mostly a refresher for me as I had a year of chemistry in college. Next Tuesday we have our first quiz. I actually plan to study for it.  The professor is also giving us 50 extra credit points for participating in a scientific survey twice this semester.  That's just over 5% of our grade.  I will of course be participating in that.

In another sign that the world has changed, each professor and each syllabus has clearly stated the expectation regarding academic conduct. Sometime more than once. I don't know if this is because cheating has become a bigger problem or if they are just more sensitive to it. I don't remember this being emphasized or being an issue when I was in school.  Maybe its just my memory fading.

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Anonymous said...

Bravo on you, sir, for your commitment to the betterment of yourself through continuing education. My wife, 45 y/o, began classes this week in pursuit of her bachelor's degree. As if you did not have my respect already (via your wonderful blog posts), you now have it tenfold.

wolf21m said...

Serephin, Thanks for the compliment. It was a big step, but I haven't regretted it at all. We'll see during finals week though...