How to Succeed at Organic Chemistry - Part 3

Uploaded by SBUVideo on 29.07.2008

There are so many other myths of organic chemistry.
Well that's one of the big ones.
That it's useless and you'll never use it again.
I think
one of the most valuable things... I mean, there is a question "is the
knowledge of organic chemistry of understanding
biology at a molecular level
actually going to be useful for the majority of our students?"
for some i have no doubt that it will be but
for most probably not. But probably
the most important thing
they get part out of
or they will obtain out of organic chemistry and it's uh... it's a course
of ideas
and problem solving.
The problems we have in organic chemistry aren't terribly difficult
but you get the experience of working these very complicated uh..
problems that are more complicated than they might not normally encountered and so I
think that's one of the most--that's probably the number one most important thing
to get out of organic chemistry problem solving.
True, you get to know stuff
and some of that stuff might be useful to you.
It doesn't hurt to be an educated consumer bureau able to read the label on your, you
shampoo bottle or whatever you're going to use
and understand what it is. The lectures are full of pieces from
the the new york times from the previous decade.
You get to know whether you're buying a generic drug is
the same as your
sixty dollar
name-brand drug.
But I think some of the students really get into the material itself.
I think one thing about organic is it really takes--the students take all
these different science courses
from physics
to chemistry, biology, biochemistry
and in organic is one of the places where they see where to put it all together.
I mean, one of their favorite
topics last semester was when we're
talking about some of these
biosynthetic pathways which is the way nature makes these complicated molecules.
So you could talk about making a steroid--all the students of course have
heard about steroids. They don't know what they are but they've heard about
and so these are really complicated molecules.
So how does nature put these things together?
So you have a cation,
you know about cations and charges from physics, electrostatics and so how do
you take that cation and
some enzyme
but it's still the cation, fold this thing up, makes these chemical bonds
and you come up
with this very complex molecule and the amazing thing is you understand the
steps. Or at least you think you understand the steps. I think that's it.
It's the appreciation that either nature or you can synthesize
things. Whether you make molecules, make materials, make,
you know, your LCD screens or your OLED screens,
make things that might save somebody someday from a strep infection.
Oh yeah, my students really liked the synthesis aspect of it. Well this is
because this is one of my favorite parts so I into this
so I think I gave them a problem every day on synthesis
uh... on the website. There was basically every midnight, a new problem
came up.
The best students in the class just thought this was great
and they were having so much fun of this and we had this competition
at midnight
as who could post the correct answer first. And these were complicated answers
because with their free software packages available where they can draw
out their chemical structures,
I mean, they still take time. I mean it takes
minutes to draw all these things out so they're not only not only were they
solving this complicated synthesis which might have ten steps, they were drawing
it all out and then running to see who could get up on the web first.
So I would have been things come up at twelve eleven
and then in a couple students that the other students thought they were
cheating because they were using--they were drawing it out by hand and using
their cell phones to take a picture of the solution of the post.
This was unfair, you need to be drawing it out properly but of course it was fair.
So are all the students sitting in their dorm rooms during or are they hanging out somewhere in a group?
I saw that they were doing it together. There where,
I mean,
these problems came up every day.
I had a couple weekends where I had problems up on saturday morning at
1 AM and they were at the party and they were doing these things.
I mean, James is sitting there saying I
haven't got my chem program. i'm doing this by text at the party. This is a
little bit crazy but it
what it tells you that the passion that the kind of kind of develops
and there's a sense of competition.
It's very friendly competition because I was also very impressed about
on this
web based
uh... problem solving, you know, the students would
criticize each other's other work. Oh they would give critiques?Oh yeah,
this is one of the things like a forum. It's a discussion group so one student
post something up and somebody else would say I like your synthesis but I don't think
your step number three is going to work
and uh... sometimes he would know how to fix it and other times they wouldn't.
They just wouldn't work.
So it was a lot of fun.
And I think that's what really developed the whole term. I wouldn't say everybody
It's a thousand kids..But that's the same atmosphere that every time I've gone down to the Chemistry Learning Center
especially before an exam--it's the same sort of
people helping each other and going up to the board and
"No no no that's not how you do it. You do it this way."
and but it's a really important piece
of the course is there is physical, there's the web where they can exchange but there's
the physical area where they come together and can discuss it and maybe somebody
doesn't have a group of friends like you're describing, they can show up at the
Learning Center and find some people who are working on the same problems or have already
worked it. Oh the key thing is participation.
They can get some help there.
That sort of...
how many hours a week is the Learning Center open?
Forty? Sixty? Well the door is never locked.
There might not be TAs in there at night but you can go into the building to the
learning center and they do.
So it's a fun place and the thing
is you're allowed to make noise. It's not like the library where it's individual
study space. Well this is the big difference I think in organic
chemistry compared to the way we used to
teach this years ago, is this
is student oriented. The students really do a tremendous amount of education
on their own.
You see that in the workshops, you see that the learning center,
you see it in class
is that you can ask the same question twice
put it up and the nobody gets it. If it's sort of a tie, you say "Well,
talk to each other again and try and convince
the other person that you are right then they can convince you that
they're right."
see if it changes
and oftentimes it does change and it goes in the right direction. Sometimes it
doesn't and I have
no explanation. I've learned so much about some things
about the students using those clickers. You can see what their heads are really about. You can see what
they're doing. Those lectures are so clear and
sometimes they still don't get it.
No, but you do. You try to plant the seed of the information in a couple
places in the rooms so that it can spread virally through the crowd.
The feedback is so good for us because sometimes we really think
they do
understand but they don't and we learned as well you know they don't
know how to apply electranegativity in this instance. Now there's no way a group of
six hundred people can
put in their clicker responses get back exactly fifty-fifty for they
answers on purpose. Although sometimes I think they are teasing us.
Well to sum up all that we're all trying to say is that
of the students in the course is absolutely essential and this is this is
the way you will succeed in organic chemistry. Organic chemistry is not
but you must
you must work at it and you must work at it everyday
and working at it with
other students makes it far more enjoyable.
Well thank you John, thank you Nicole. Thanks Bill. It's been fun. Ok. Haha.