Saturday, 3 January 2015

10 Hours in School, but a Cool Dynamic

I was going to write a topic post today, but I'm exhausted so you're getting what's essentially a diary entry. Tough shit.

It's currently 9 p.m. and I've been in school for eleven hours. I think this is the longest Young Scientist day so far this year, but it was a lot worse last year. Wait, nope, ten hours. I can't even count at this point.

I just got home, and to no one's surprise, am still tired. Well, no one is home to be surprised but ... I'm rambling. I love Verdana. It probably doesn't help that I went to sleep at 3.42 a.m. last night, aided and abetted (what a redundant phrase) by TV Tropes. I opened up 11 tabs on that website, including the one for the Skulduggery Pleasant series that I can finally go on without fear of spoilers, and then had no chance of escaping. I mean, with page names like "Wangst" and bloody everything else, it's really hard not to click on links.

Are we enjoying my so-tired-I'm-almost-drunk-with-it blogging? Oh yes we are! Wait, no. That's not what's happening.

So I got up around quarter past ten, giving me 6.5 hours of sleep if I've counted correctly (and let's face it, I probably haven't). Mam came down and had breakfast before driving me to school a little past eleven. Only slightly late. 

Once I got to school, I finished my Abstract, did some References and worked on my Discussion. I did the Conclusion and Further Work yesterday. All had been with Ms. O' Regan last night, and once she gave them back with suggestions I went through them again. We squabbled over the word infeasible; she insisted it wasn't a word, I insisted it was. I was right, so it stayed for a while. 

I printed out a copy of my Methods and labelled all the Figures, then gave that to Patsy so she could type them up. She got all the Methods onto one page, woohoo. Did I really just say that? Young Scientist-induced delirium. 

Anyway, I continued to work on my Discussion while Patsy did that, then Ms. O' Regan rang the principal to come have a look at my report book. So I had to print everything off. The Discussion was only half-finished so I was reluctant to do that but still did. We Young Scientists use an awful lot of paper.

Patsy came back with McDonalds for all of us (I got a sweet chilli chicken wrap, medium fries and Fanta) and by that time my principal had arrived with her husband and adult daughter. The principal has a degree in chemistry and her husband has a Materials Science (contact lenses I think) PhD and owns a company. I'm lucky to have a previous science teacher as a principal. Anyway, I handed over all my work and they went through it.

It was terrifyingly thorough. 

The husband read each page first, going through it slowly and commenting every so often. He then turned the page over and placed it on another pile, where my principal picked it up and re-read it for anything he had missed. When they thought of an interesting fact, they shared it with each other. As my project has a lot of Materials science and he's a Materials Scientist, he was mostly the one teaching her, but it really was lovely to watch the dynamic between them as they passed along information. 

Eye-opening too. It's good to see authority figures in a different role from time to time; it reminds you that everyone has different faces. 

For example, my principal told me today that she needs glasses but never wears them, so sometimes she has to squint down the hall at students. That's the kind of thing some students would interpret as malevolence, but there's an explanation.

I like explanations. 

There were a few things they caught that I never would have; I mentioned a "conduction ban", put the chemical structure for PMMA where that for perylene should have been, spelled ethanolamine wrong every time. I learned that Tween-20 is a surfactant, and about something benzene-related (benzoyl peroxide?) that's used to treat acne. 

My principal said she thinks my report book is the best she's ever read (which could definitely be total lying flattery but hush) and that she likes my writing style. Which was nice, and not something you usually hear from a principal. Young Scientist changes a lot of things. You're seen differently by teachers, to start with.

They then looked at my Conclusions and Further Work. I was told that I need to stop hiding the accomplishments of the research and emphasize the positive more, that the Further Work section is not as important as the Conclusions and could even be put in smaller font, and that I need to make sure the connection between my aims and conclusions are clear, even to the point of numbering them. 

It offends my moral compass, but I have the whole Discussion and Further Work sections to hash out what went wrong. 

And then the husband told me I should call the Patents Office, tell them to have a look.

I don't think I should do that. I know that if I exhibit without lodging a patent anyone can take my work, but I can't pay for everything a patent involves and it just scares me, to be honest. All this stuff does. I don't like it when people have too much faith in me. It's pressure.

My principal told me today that after they gave me so much money for the chemicals I needed we'll have to just go back to using chalk if a lightbulb in the interactive whiteboards breaks. Joking, I presume, but still very unpleasant. Please don't remind me, I am trying. 

Posting this may be very unwise. Three days until the Young Scientist Exhibition...

I didn't really do much after lunch. Ms. O' Regan even told me to put my feet up because I'm worn out, which is so not a Ms. O' Regan thing to say. I'm a lot further ahead than I was last year, thankfully. I typed up some frequency tables for Niamh (bloody pinecones) and made the adjustments Mr and Mrs advised to my Abstract. The rest can be done tomorrow. I'm too damn tired. 


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