Flash Fiction – Studying for Chemistry

Very few students manage to make it through their high school careers without being forced to take chemistry. No one is immune to the traps of chemistry. Honors chemistry junior year started out with twenty-one kids and ended the year with only eleven.

As terrifying as the prospect of having the midterm and final combine to form twenty percent of the final grade, it was what saved most students. Not specific enough to screw anyone up to greatly, everyone would score two grade levels higher than usual (an “A” instead of a “C” for example) and it was enough to bring up the grades from the rest of the year.

Where as in most science classes, biology or physics, students dreaded lab days because they took up study periods, in chemistry students looked forward to actually doing something. The lab write-ups were a different. Labs meant looking up expected values, which would sometimes take hours.

Towards the end of the school year, whenever labs were due everyone would convene after school in the cafeteria to figure them out together. They always started the same way, with everyone gathered at the same round table.

“I’m hungry. Does anybody want to got to the vending machine?”

“I’ve got… a buck seventy-five.”

“I’ve got some change. Here, get some chips.”

“I found a bag of candy in my purse.”

“Can someone get me a drink?”

“Sure. Whataya want?”

“Orange if they have it.”

Candy and snacks accumulated in the middle of the table, everyone contributed.

“Do you have any idea what he wants us to do for calculations?”

“I just guessed about the equations. Were you able to find an accepted value anywhere?”

“I was online for three hours last night and couldn’t find a thing. My computer froze about five times before I gave up.”

“What kind of computer do you have?”

“PC.”

“Hey, how’d you do on that last test?”

“Oh, I failed. Again.”

“No way. You failed too?”

“I think the highest grade in the class was an seventy-one.”

“Did we all do that bad?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“Did you see number five? Did he ever explain how to do that one in class?”

“I was out that day. I stayed after to ask him about it but it only made me more confused.”

“Here. I have it in my notes.”

“Damn. I messed up the structure. I had the angles all wrong.”

“Oh man. I’ve gotta go. My brother’s got practice and I got stuck with taking him.”

“Good luck finishing the lab.”

“Maybe he’ll be out again tomorrow.”

“Yeah right. Don’t get my hopes up.”

“Just remember, there’s only another month and a half.”

“Only thirty-three school days total.”

“Then we’re seniors.”

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