I’m going to be honest and say I took this class because it fulfilled two requirements for graduation. As a chemistry class, it has served as my elective course for my chemistry major. As a capstone class, it has served as my required core capstone for graduation. I also thought it would fit nicely as a bridge between my psychology minor and chemistry major.
Little did I know the things we learned would apply to my daily life and to my future career plans. I have noticed over the course of the semester being far more interested in what is going on with different diseases and disorders rather than simply how to treat them. I think that this interest gives a better understanding overall of diseases and disorders as how they are treated is often based on what is going on. This is helpful in diseases which do not only affect the brain.
As for how this class applied to future career plans, I have stated in previous blogs my desire to be a teacher. I am currently applying to graduate schools for pursue a Master’s in Education and wish to teach high school chemistry. Many of the disorders we talked about had some sort of relevance to teaching adolescents. Whether it is the knowledge of things like autism and concussions which have obvious relations or things like bipolar and depression which are often diagnosed in adolescent years.
Another thing that is an invisible take home message is the process which we used to evaluate and learn about each topic. Starting with a published research paper can be very scary. Even as a senior in college who has researched using countless published papers, it is still a daunting task to weed through all the ‘chemistry jargon’ and get to what the authors are trying to explain. Instead of being expected to understand the paper on our own we worked together to create a list of things from the paper which we did not understand or wanted more information about. I really liked this approach as it broke what often was an eight to fifteen page paper up into a simple list of things. The list was then researched further and presented to the class. To further understanding, we ended each topic with a class discussion. Discussion was great as it did not focus on just the chemistry but also on the ethics and real world applications of the different diseases and disorders.
This approach to learning is something I would like to use when I start to teach. I think it would be helpful to use relevant articles to supplement chemistry curriculum in high school and to introduce high school students to real world applications of the topics being discussed.
Overall, I am very glad that Neurochemistry could be my capstone. I really enjoyed the class not only for the topics discussed but also the freedom that the format of the class provided. This freedom made the class much more personal and made me feel as if I was not only a learner, but also a teacher.