Lab Day!

'Sorry Professor, you're right: I DID skip a line of the instructions...'

Its lab day in my classroom and the class is ecstatic! We have prepared all week, writing balanced chemical equations, determining the most commonly formed ions, and studying ionic and covalent bonds. To begin the class I go through my usual warnings of the precautions we must take due to the dangerous nature of chemicals and on cue a student asks, “When can we make fireworks?” My eyes immediately lower towards the student and I sarcastically reply, “You have obviously missed the point of safety in the lab.” Once I dismiss my students to the lab they busily equip themselves with their goggles, lab apron, and gloves. Once all the students have been situated in their lab groups I give initial instructions and admonish them to take time observing the chemical reactions that take place.

What the students don’t understand is the amount of time it took to prepare the sixteen chemical compounds. They don’t realize that an experiment that might take them 30 minutes to complete took several hours to prepare. The reagents have to be prepared to the right concentration, all the lab equipment must be clean and neutralized, and afterward must be meticulously disposed of according to hazardous waste protocol.

Without fail, I will instruct the class to begin the experiment and in what seems like five minutes one of my students will announce, “I’m done Mr. Flores! What do I do now?” So I head over to his lab bench and say, “That was fast! So tell me, what occurred when you combined chemical A with chemical B?” I wait in eager anticipation that he will eloquently state that chemical A reacted with chemical B to form a precipitate, which indicates that a new compound has formed. Furthermore, he is just about to write down the chemical formula for the new compound as well as the correct chemical name. And he simply responds, “It changed colors.”

Now you can imagine the immediate letdown that I am experiencing from his terse response, but not to give up I ask more precisely, “Explain the chemical reaction that is taking place. With a look of consternation on his face, he replies, “Well…it turned darker.” At this point I can give up and tell him to clean up his experiment, or I can probe further and help him understand the reaction that took place. After a little more inquiry, I come to find out that he understood what happened he just needed a little time to digest what took place. I applaud his efforts and advise him to slow down a bit, almost as a father would.

Perhaps this is how God feels with us. He has devised this master plan and is teaching us daily only for us to try and rush through it all. Personally, I am eager to seek him and to learn his ways through the word, however I rush to apply his teachings without fully understanding them sometimes. When we read, pray, and carry out His will we must reflect on his teachings and their true meaning. Our Lord will give us opportunities to apply what he has taught, but these opportunities are not to be rushed. Lets take our time, and truly appreciate what God is trying to teach us. Lets take advantage of every opportunity to apply the truth and as Romans 12:2 states, “Be not conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”


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