Four mornings a week Emma begins the day with a Skype call with a professor in New England who is a bio-chemist. We call him Dr. C on this blog. They have a close relationship and their conversations flow easily between them. I am very much the observer most of the time.
This is a sample of one of their more typical exchanges:
Dr. C: So if water were linear and not bent what effect would this have on life on Earth?
Emma: Hydrogen would not be able to find connections to create networks, life as we know it could not be.
Dr. C: Right, so there would be no dipole or tiny magnet, thus water would not align with a + or – side….
The session before this one, Dr. C asked Emma, as a homework project, to construct a Benzene (C6H6) model, which Emma then did. It looks like this:
The final piece of the homework assignment was to draw the corresponding Lewis Bond Structure. This proved much more difficult and took about five attempts before she drew the structure below. (It is awesome and fabulously impressive!)
The Lewis Bond Structure is basically a replica of the actual three-dimensional model, so much so that you can literally place the model on top of it and it will pair up. While making the molecular models of things like water, ammonia, methane and carbon dioxide are now fairly easy for Emma, drawing the Lewis Bond Structures are not and it reminds me of a similar problem that writing, handwriting and to a lesser degree typing presents.
I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on why this might be so, but watching Emma cheerfully putting together these models is absolutely fascinating. And it makes me wonder if this isn’t a key to better understanding how teaching methods might take a page from organic chemistry…
If one thinks in a more three-dimensional way, does it then follow that trying to write, formulate the words to correspond with the thoughts, would present a whole series of challenges? Doesn’t it suggest that this is more than a “word retrieval” issue? I’m wondering if there even IS a word retrieval issue, (I plan to ask Emma later) but instead there’s a spatial issue presenting itself as non word based and therefore very difficult to transcribe.