Monday, July 21, 2014

Exam 1 and a Field Trip

The morning of an exam, I usually take a shower to clear my head and get my blood circulation going. Of course, as my luck would have it, the bathroom on the first floor was busy today! However, I was still able to get ready, grab breakfast, and make it to class on time, thankfully.

Everyone in the Biotech class was worried about the exam! Finally, at 9 AM, we all took our seats and got to work on the exams. The test was 70 questions in one and a half hours, which isn’t too bad. I managed my time wisely and was able to have around 20 minutes to go over my answers. However, there were a couple questions I wasn’t sure about, and some I just barely recognized from Dr. Bhasin’s slides. Overall, the exam wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it definitely wasn’t easy.

I talked to the other students about it afterward, and I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who felt unsure about certain questions.

Fifteen minutes after the exam, our class made a three-minute walk to the Comprehensive Cancer Center, DNA Sequencing and Genotyping Facility on the UChicago campus. They showed us their PCR machines (we’ll start working with those tomorrow in lab), sequencing equipment, and capillary arrays. It was interesting to learn about biotechnology in action (besides in lab) instead of theoretically.

I went to lunch afterwards, where we saw a group of students ranging from 8 to 17 years old in the Dining Hall. They have to sing songs during each of their meals and when they clean up after meals, which I had the privilege of listening to. It’s strange to see little kids at UChicago—living on my own truly feels like college living, so seeing younger kids walking around surprises me. I wonder if college students think that about high school students taking classes here.

After that, I attempted to take a nap in my dorm (it didn’t work out well). I went to lab, where we calculated the transformation efficiency and transformation frequency of the transformed cells. Out of the class, three pairs resulted in good cultures. April and I were one of those pairs! I’d say we’ve grown a lot since the beginning of the class (was that only a week ago?), when we were totally clueless on how to change pipette tips or work the microscope.
My jellyfish. The purple and blue barely glow!

We went directly to our dorms after lab—we were so tired! I hung out in my room with Kaitlyn, talking about Wicked songs and how great our TAs, Danny and Ciara, are. We left the room at 6:30 PM to eat and socialize. The kids from the other program were also in the Dining Hall (I was able to hear their songs again; at this rate I’ll have the songs memorized by tomorrow night).

Afterwards, I edited my essay and read a couple pages’ worth of reading material before walking to the library with Kaitlyn. Though there’s a printer in South Campus, it only lets students put in $20 for printing (not anything less or more), so we chose to walk to the library and save $19.

UChicago at around 8 PM is so pretty! I wished I had my camera with me when walking out tonight. The sky was a dusky purple-black color, and the various light poles every ten steps (if not less) and emergency blue light poles (with police officers standing near once it got too dark out) made me feel totally safe. I’m pretty sure by the end of this program, I’ll be able to confidently say I’ve never once felt unsafe on campus.

After posting this blog, finishing just a bit more of the assigned reading material, and getting ready for bed, I’ll hit the sack. I can’t wait for tomorrow. I’m happy to say that this experience, though slightly stressful, is full of fun as well. Most of the fun, I think, comes from being around the cohort and Biotech classmates (we’re all growing closer). It goes to show that what every single person at every single dinner has said—college really gives you a sense of community. It’s a great feeling.

Observations in the Park

Today, I woke up at 8:15 in a bit of a panic because my I slept through my alarm. Luckily I got ready quickly enough, and was heading out the door for class by 8:30. Fortunately for me, Oyin was kind enough to grab me an apple before we started walking to our classes. I got to my class with time to spare, like usual.

We started out our classes by talking about our plans for the afternoon. That afternoon, the plan was to go to a park and observe kids and their relationships with their peers and guardians. Cassie had previously done observations of kids and parents interactions in the zoo for research, and explained to us that if at any point a parent came up to you and asked you what you were doing, you had to have an explained response. She had ready a slip of paper explaining that she was recording conversations for a study. If the stranger did not like the fact that their conversations were being recorded, they had the right to have the tapes erased. Luckily though, Cassie said this was a rare occurrence. We still needed to practice what we’re going to say at the park, though, if there was a chance that we were going to be approached by a parent or kid.
After the discussion about our plans for the afternoon, we started to watch a video about the child's brain and how sound and language is learned. At first language does goes into the brain and connections having to do with language happen all over the brain, but as time goes on and the sounds these babies are hearing are developing into language, the connections move to the left brain. This is why if someone is hit in a certain part of their head on the side, they may not be able to speak coherently for some time.

After the video and discussion, we went to lunch in the dining hall. We were instructed that the park was a bit of a long walk and it was a hot day, so we should only bring a notebook and pen. We walked to the park together after meeting at the class room. The park was about five blocks away and very large. There were multiple playgrounds in the park, and Cassie split us up into groups of two or three to observe different playgrounds. This way it wouldn't look as obvious that we were a group observing the kids. I was paired with Bella, who is in my research group and is also from California. At first we saw two separate parties on the playground. The first was a group of seven kids (4 boys, 3 girls), Spanish speaking, who were in the age range of about 7 to 14 years. They seemed to be very good friends or even family. The older kids would push the younger kids on the swings, sometimes they would just sit and talk, and other times there would be yelling and insulting, but only teasingly and it was all taken lightly. They were on their own, there was no older figure watching them. The second party consisted of a young girl who must have been around 4 or 5 years old. She was being watched by her grandmother perhaps, or her caretaker. The caretaker was also pushing a stroller with a baby, and the young girl was playing by herself mostly, but she kept looking over at the other group of kids as if she wanted to play with them. She left soon after we arrived. We observed for about an hour, taking notes, and drawing out the scene, which Cassie said was helpful to look at. Because there were not many other kids in the park, we ended class early, at about 2:15, and all headed back to the dorms.

View of our Dorms from the Lounges

Back at the dorms, I started my chapter reading, which was also about language development. I went to the gym for about an hour to take a break from my work, and then rushed to dinner with Oyin, Dani, Victoria, Katelyn, and Esin. It was fun to talk with them for a bit. We headed back to the dorm lounges to finish our homework and to blog. 

Week Two

For the first time in a while, I woke up feeling very rested. I got more than enough hours of sleep which came in handy because I had a full day of class today. I usually eat breakfast with Alexa but for some reason she wasn't replying to me so I went down by myself. After I was done eating, I was about to start walking to class but Alexa texted me saying that she woke up late and that she needed me to bring her some fruit. When she got her food, we both went our separate ways to our classes.

Today in class we talked about climate change and the first few chapters of the book we read in Enough is Enough. We had a reading to do over the weekend which was the result of a survey about global warming that people in the US took. The survey asked questions like if they believed in global warming and who they felt that it would affect in the long run. The main issues that I had with this survey was the use of the words 'global warming.' I feel like the results would have been different if they changed it to climate change because this survey was conducted after the last crazy winter that we had. Maybe some of the people who participated in this survey took the meaning of global warming really literal and thought that the world couldn't be warming if we just had a crazy winter. When we changed subject to the book, I got slightly frustrated because I couldn't really get a word in. In the class, we usually go back and forth from a mix of raising our hands and speaking when we got an idea and this seemed to work against me because when I raised my hand someone else said something and when I would try and speak out loud, the professor would call on someone else. I won't give up however and I am planning to try a new strategy.

For the first time, my professor didn't give us an assignment to do over lunch. It felt weird having all that extra time to eat and socialize but I took full advantage of it. In the afternoon portion of class, we talked about our homework assignment. We were partnered up and given one of seven different forms of renewable energy to research. We were to put together a power point presentation and come in front of the class and present what we have. As a class, we are to decide weather we would want to invest in this form of renewable energy. We hypothetically have $10 million to invest and the team with the most money at the end wins. I was partnered with Esin and we got natural gas/fracking for our topic. We got straight to work after class and we were able to finish our presentation before dinner.

I'm excited for tomorrow because we have a speaker coming in and I am also excited to see all the presentations. My class is full of really intelligent people and I am both curious and excited to see what they have to say. As a prize, my professor agreed to buy the winning team offsets in the form of a cow. A family would get this cow and raise it and earn a profit from it and they would be able to eventually but another cow. Hopefully me and my partner do well enough to win this. 

The Beginning of the Second Week of Class

My Breakfast
I woke up today ready to go to my class and ready to learn more. I woke up at 8:25 AM, got ready and went down stairs to the Dining Hall to eat breakfast. I didn't eat a lot like always because I eat like three plates of food every time I go to the Dining Hall. I just grab some eggs with fruit and bread. When I finished eating, I started walking to class and when I got to the building where my class is at; my classmates were in the wrong classroom. I didn't want to say anything so I just went in and sat down with them. When Achy came she made us move to the other room, the first room we had in the first day of class. Then, Achy told us to start doing our journal and I was talking about what I did this past Friday. When we finishing on our journal, at 10 PM, Achy told us to finish doing the rest of the workshop that we had left. Workshop is the essay about the person that is the opposite of you. When we finish reading and giving comments to my classmate’s workshop, Achy started talking about the elements again. POV-Desire-Obstacle-Plan-Execution= Failure, and repeat it all over again. Achy started talking about a professor that teaches physics and he did a study on the human brain about how many twisted plots can a human brain can handle. The answer is 3. I think this was a really cool think to know because not a lot of people know this. Every day you learn something new. Then, Achy started talking about a journalism that is on a journey right now. His name is Paul Salopek, is a seven-year journey and it started in 2013. The journey began in Ethiopia and it will end in South America in Tierra Del Fuego. Achy told us to look and read about his journey and then we have to pick one of his journeys because our next assignment is to write about a journey of someone. Then, Achy let us out at 11:30 AM and be back at 1:30 PM.

 I came straight to my room and started searching for Paul Salopek journey walk. At 12 PM, I went to the Dining Hall to go get some to eat real quick, and come back and keep searching for a journey that I want to write about. When we went back to class and some of my classmates shared what journey they like the most, Achy gave us a project that it needs to be done with a group of three, but with different people who you haven’t worked with yet. In my group I have Evan and Lisa they are both incredible writers. Achy let us go at 2:30 PM, and then my group and went to another different room to start brainstorming. We ended up picking a teenager girl and named her Wednesday, age 16, that her parent found out that she’s a lesbian and a dad that want to reconnect with the family because of his work, he haven’t spent quality time with his family. The dad decided to take a family road trip from San Jose to Yellowstone Park. The challenging part is that we picked a teddy bear that was giving to Wednesday on her third birthday by her grandma. I like my group because they make the story more challenging and that is what will make it more fun.

My Lunch
Then, I went to meet with a tutor, Pamela Larigne, she is going to help me out on improving more on my writing skills and we will be working one on one. Pamela is a very nice, cool, and awesome woman. Pamela was living in Point Richmond before she moved to Chicago and I find that a big coincidence. We will meet every day except Sundays because it will be by break day. I just want to thank all the people that are making this possible for me it really means a lot for me. I want to thank Don too for believing in me and for keeping me motivated, I appreciate it.

Then, I came back to my room and started doing research for my group project. I’m really good at doing research, is one of my best skills I have. My group and I are working on our project on Google Docs. We putting our ideas down and we all work on it by adding or taking stuff out.

Then, I needed a break, so I went down stairs to Halperin Lounge where all my cohorts are at. We started blogging together and talking while we blog. It felt good getting out of my room, but I have a weakness of getting distracted around people and it takes me longer to do my work. That’s why I’m always in my room because it helps me concentrate more and get my work done more quickly. I just stayed with my cohorts until they were all done with their work and I came up to my room to go to sleep. 
When night comes it gets beautiful
Taking Picture of the Residence Hall Buildings

The Second Week of School

I woke up today at 7:45 AM not really tired like usual in the mornings. I went down for breakfast at 8:20 and left around 8:40 to go to class. As I was walking I saw Oyin and Alexa ahead of me but they were already going the direction of their classes. I got to my class at 8:50 AM and waited in the hallway with the rest of my classmates that were already there. Today in class I learned that the flu virus is a negative-stranded RNA virus. I learned that a pandemic is an epidemic of infectious diseases that spread through human populations across a large region. I also learned that 630 people were infected by H5N1 and 375 died since 2003. It spreads slowly, doesn't spread from human to human, and is a dangerous and deadly flu.

In the lab we used different plates to separate the bacteria in different ways. We used 400 mL of saline and took the E. coli from the filter pad and mixed it with saline in a tube using a toothpick to extract the E. coli. But before we did this we counted the colonies on the diluted and non-diluted colonies and calculated the number of colonies divided by the volume plated. After the calculations we took one of the colonies from the environmental plates we did with a toothpick and mixed it with the saline in another tube. Then we plated the red and blue colonies onto different plates.

After that we chose two colonies fro the environmental bacteria and mixed them in saline with separate tubes. Then we used a loop to spread the bacteria on one part of the plate and switched loops to take the bacteria from the part that was spread already and repeated that and spread it. It was spread three ways. My partner and I chose to use the bathroom and dead fish samples. Then we went to lunch and I ate pizza, pineapples, fries, and mac & cheese. After lunch I walked back to class and ended up being tired for some reason. Maybe because I was dehydrated and didn't have enough water. I like the fact that I learn more things each day.

When class ended I walked back to the dorms with Salmon, one of my classmates. We talked about how we both had dogs and we talked about how hot it was and what how it's different back at home. When I got to my room I took a two hour nap and then went to dinner. At dinner I ate a chicken taco, fries, and fruit. I also had a banana while I was waiting for Oyin, Alexa, Dani, and Kaitlyn to finish eating. When they were done we all went our separate ways until later on meeting in one of the many lounges. Ending the night we all checked in for curfew and then went back to the lounge to work on whatever needed to be done.