A Class to Dye For

by Jessica Garza-Hutmacher

Horizon Reporter

“A lot of concepts are not as difficult as people make them out to be,” said Steve Deroy, full-time chemistry instructor and coordinator here at Whatcom Community College. Chemistry may be overlooked because “people make it harder than it actually is,” Deroy adds.

           There are a variety of options available when thinking about signing up for the courses provided. The chemistry program provides two different series, General Chem. 161-163 and Organic Chem. 261-263.

            Health science majors like pre-med, pre-dental, or pharmacists all need to take the first 161 series. “It is more numbers oriented, quantitative,” Deroy described. “It is very left brain.”

In the General Chemistry 161 series, there is a lot of chemical bonding, chemical equations, chemical reactions and physical phenomena being investigated Deroy said.

            In the Kulshan laboratories, supervised by Whatcom’s other full time instructor, Paul Frazey leads his students through “separation of food dyes by chromatography,” designed to investigate the vivid colors of the rainbow, also known as Y6, R40 and B1, in various forms.

            Students leave their beverages outside the doors, place their belongings in allotted cubbies at the front of the room, and place safety goggles over their eyes to begin the procedures. “I like it,” said student Elana Knutzen. “I’m going into pharmacy, hopefully, which is a lot a lot of chemistry.”

Knutzen’s lab partner, Victor Bueno, said that it’s a fun class, “but I won’t be finishing the series because I changed my major.”

A variety of students made comments no less than flattering when speaking about instructor Frazey. “He’s awesome,” “he’s really funny,” “he is a super nice guy” — exclaimed his students.

The Organic Chemistry 261 series “is more right brain,” Deroy said, “a lot more pictures and words.” There are “no calculations, not much number crunching at all” he said. “O-chem. defined, is the chemistry of carbon compounds and their chemical reactions,” said Deroy.

To enroll in the second series students must complete the first 161-163 series, as a pre-requisite, however students do not have to complete the second series; it is advisable they do, Deroy mentions.

For the students who don’t want to delve in to a 3-course meal of chemistry, Whatcom also offers single quarter survey courses. “Chemistry 121, a pre-req. for many courses, is a much broader general chemistry class,” says Deroy. The same applies for Organic Chemistry 131. “In the survey courses, there are less topics covered in a more superficial manner,” Deroy says “The series cover more topics and more in depth.”

Brand new to Whatcom this winter is the Chemistry 104 course. Titled, “Finding things out” will be an inquiry based, less lecture, more student investigating and a more lab type class” Deroy explains with excitement. “There also is no math requirement,” he adds.

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