Reacting to finals: Chemistry club

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Senior and vice president of Chemistry club Hannah Kan posts the day's notes in the AP Chemistry Facebook group. Besides physical meetings, Chemistry club officers also helped students with their questions online.

Senior and vice president of Chemistry club Hannah Kan posts the day’s notes in the AP Chemistry Facebook group. Besides physical meetings, Chemistry club officers also helped students with their questions online.

One of MVHS’s most rigorous science classes is AP Chemistry. Taught by Kavita Gupta and Supriya Moore, this course involves the understanding and mastery of a myriad of scientific concepts, according to College Board’s guide to the AP exam. One of the resources available to students in need of help is chemistry club, which meets every Wednesday in D206. Officers of chemistry club reflect on how they helped students with finals and what they enjoy best about their duties.

President of the chemistry club and senior Patrick Kan is mainly in charge of the logistics behind chemistry club. He works to coordinate tutors and meeting times, and he keeps in constant contact with Gupta so that she knows what the club is up to. Kan decided to become an officer and tutor of chemistry club in order to help those who might have come into AP Chemistry from a similar background as him.

“I started AP chemistry last year, fresh from physics sophomore year, so that’s really why I wanted to begin teaching chemistry students because I also struggled in the beginning, so I really wanted to give them that edge,” Patrick said. “I just wanted to help them because I had their perspectives, because I knew that a lot of them [were]coming from AP Physics 1 to AP chemistry.”

Patrick has seen that students have naturally become more concerned about their success as finals loom on the horizon, but he thinks that as long as they practice diligently with review problems, they will be alright. Kan wants to emphasize that if AP chemistry students feel stuck, there is help available from a wide variety of sources.

“If anyone needs help, there’s always help available for them. They don’t need to struggle alone,” Patrick said. “You wouldn’t need to always go to chemistry club for help, per say, but you could go to other peers who you know understand the material, you could organize study groups, and I know that, at least for Mrs. Gupta’s AP chemistry, she hosts a lot of study sessions.”

Senior Hannah Kan is the vice president of chemistry club. Hannah mainly focuses on assisting Patrick with coordination and logistics, but she also attends chemistry club meetings and helps students with their questions. She is most excited for second semester, since chemistry club will be expanding to a wider variety of laboratory experiment demonstrations to help students prepare for the AP test.

“It’s hard right now because we’re still waiting till second semester when more kids come,” Hannah said. “We’re planning to do labs and stuff that’s review, so then we’ll have to do more jobs related to that. But right now, it’s just helping them with test corrections, things like that.”

Hannah has had an interesting experience when it came to adjusting to AP chemistry last year, mostly because of the entirely different school system that she moved from. The International Baccalaureate program encourages learning from different subject groups such as the Individuals and Societies cluster, which encompasses subjects such as Cultural Anthropology and Psychology and the Experimental Sciences cluster, which includes sciences such as chemistry and computer science. The end result of the IB program after passing its requirements in an internationally recognized diploma which is accepted by universities around the world.

“I love chemistry, but it was a little difficult transitioning because I came from an IB school,” Hannah said. “When I moved here, it was much harder for me because it wasn’t so much memorization of concepts and how to set up problems, but more like how do you apply it, and can you figure out what you need to do.”

Hannah is optimistic about the class’s performance on the final because of the improvement she’s seen in their work.

“They’ve become a little more serious, and you can definitely tell that their growth in chemistry is tremendous, even though they think, probably, that that’s not so much different from last year. They’ve definitely changed in the way that they approach problems and how they’re studying for it,” Hannah said. “When we grade formative tests off the answer key [Gupta] gives us, some of them have improved tremendously.”

Senior and tutor of chemistry club Jadon Bienz has been passionate about chemistry since his elementary school days because of its many uses. Though he also helps tutor Japanese during tutorial, he finds chemistry tutoring to be the more fulfilling of the two because of his connection to the subject. The thing that he enjoys the most about tutoring is the moment when people suddenly gain an understanding of a tough concept.

“When you’re tutoring someone, and they finally get that instantaneous moment of understanding and a problem suddenly makes sense,” Bienz said. “You just feel a sense of relief and accomplishment with them. That’s probably the most precious [moment].”

Bienz took Chemistry Honors before AP chemistry. This is the recommended path to the AP course, and although he felt like that gave him a greater understanding of a few of the concepts in AP chemistry, he still had to work hard to understand other new concepts.

“I’d say the Thermochemistry unit was definitely less of a rush to get used to, as opposed to someone who wouldn’t have had the experience before in doing real computational style problems,” Bienz said. “In terms of other things though, I don’t really feel like I had too, too much of an advantage over the regular chemistry students, having taken chemistry Honors.”

When it comes to major exams like the final, the two things that Bienz stresses the most is getting a good night’s sleep beforehand and double checking your answers on the test. Bienz feels that sacrificing more than a few hours of sleep in favor of studying can be redundant and end up eroding your memory because of fatigue on the actual exam.

Ultimately, Bienz loves chemistry because of the understanding it brings of the world around him.

“I want to be a pretty appreciative person for my surroundings, and chemistry’s, well, other than physics, arguably, it’s one of the fundamental sciences,” Bienz said. “When you understand that, you can get a grasp of what everything is, and you start seeing the more complex processes in life and the more complex structures of everything, and that really makes you think. It just makes you appreciate it.”

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Bill Cheng is a junior and a part of the entertainment section. This is his second year on staff.