Wednesday, September 16, 2009

High School Chemistry: More than Science

Allison Bland remembers:

Mr. Seth Klein

AP Chemistry teacher
Shoreham Wading River High School
Shoreham, New York

When I was a junior in high school, I took Advanced Placement Chemistry with Mr. Klein. Despite my lifelong love of writing, I entered his class with a new consideration for a college major in science after a great experience in AP Biology the year before. I didn’t know until later, but Mr. Klein’s influence would help guide the career path I have worked to follow ever since.

A year of AP Chemistry covers a huge amount of information that is needed to pass the AP exam, but Mr. Klein drove us through the material without leaving anyone behind. He was efficient enough to leave room for the fun stuff: explosions, homemade ice cream (a chemical process!), and a science-related book reports. For the report, I read The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould, which opened up a new world of ways that science can be written about and explained.

Mr. Klein also connected me to a summer internship in a pharmacology lab, a job that made me realize that I wasn’t interested in a research career. I started to think about other ways I could connect science to my love of writing.

What made Mr. Klein such an effective teacher was his obvious love of the subject and his students and his efforts to show us how science was present in all aspects of our lives. He gave me opportunities to learn science outside of a textbook or classroom and guided me toward my interest in the history of science and science writing.

Allison Bland is a communications fellow at Research!America and a graduate of McGill University with degrees in English and history of science.

This tribute is part of our spotlight on science educators series.
Part 1 - Introduction
To share your story about a science educator who helped shape your path, leave a comment, or send your story to hbenson at

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