Chemistry 2018 - 2019

About Your Instructor

I grew up here in Vancouver, Washington; I went to Skyview High School.

I teach science because I love figuring things out and working through ideas with others. There is something very satisfying about understanding something complex.

In addition to teaching Chemistry, I also teach the advanced Chemistry and Physics courses here at HeLa, as well as the Biomedical Engineering pathway. I also coach Knowledge Bowl and act as the Freshmen Class Representative advisor.

A lot of my time spent outside of HeLa working on remodeling my house. As hobbies, I really enjoy watching movies, finding great pizza to eat, playing retro video games, wrestling with tough ideas, and listening to music and NPR.

About this Course

Chemistry is the study of matter. Almost nothing that we study in this class can be seen with the naked eye or even under a microscope.

So how do we know what's really going on if we can't see it? That's where science comes in. We can use evidence to build a set of ideas that explain how things work, and that's what we'll be doing in this course. We will use evidence and discoveries to build a set of ideas that can help to explain how things work at the smallest scale.

Chemistry is impossible to master because of its complicated and conceptual nature.

I will try to push you, ask you to figure things out, ask you HOW and WHY.

It's okay not to know. But we have to try.

Classroom Environment

We are all here to learn and grow.

This expectation is a core part of our beliefs here at HeLa, and it is your responsibility to Rise to meet this expectation in this class.

It feels good going into a place knowing what to expect. It feels good to have the people around you help you to accomplish a goal, rather than keep you from doing your best. One of my roles as a 9th Grade science teacher is to help you ready for the rest of high school, and so I'll be working to help you with this throughout the year, whether it be through helping with study skills or ensuring we have a productive classroom environment where you can do your best.

Standards Based Grading

Coming into Chemistry, it doesn't matter how you've done in your other classes. There are no A-students or C-students. Just learners.

Your grade in Chemistry is meant to be a reflection of your own learning and understanding. This means that it's not all about how much you can remember, it's about making sense of information and using your developed understanding.

There are no tricks or games. There's no extra credit. Grades aren't prizes and they aren't punishments. You learn an idea, you show me how well you understand it or can use it, and your grade is based on that.

Every big idea in the course is set up in the gradebook as a standard, and within each big idea there is a concept to learn. These concepts are ultimately what are measured, usually through examination.

But What About....?

Cell Phones

They have no place in our classroom.

Zero tolerance.

No sympathy.

Chewing Gum

Fine as long as we aren't doing a lab and as long as it doesn't end up under desks.

We have a beautiful building, and it's up to all of us to take care of it.

Swallow your gum or put it in the trash.

My Grade

I sincerely dislike this question.

Your grade is not a reflection of who you are.

Your grade is meant to be a reflection of your understanding, and understanding is what matters in chemistry and in my classroom.

Ask me about what you don't understand, not your grade.


Definitely appropriate, as long as you can give me evidence that you spent some time learning.

I have special retake passes that will always be available that can help guide you. Evidence of learning often means making sense of your notes, watching videos, and doing practice work.

Missing Class

Particularly because of the block schedule, lost time can be really tough to recover from in Chemistry, since the concepts build upon each other. But, things come up.

If you do miss class, you are responsible for what you missed out on. There are generally more effective first steps to take than waiting until you get back and then asking me what you missed. It's good to be proactive.


I love them. They are one of the best and most important learning tools that we will use all year.

If you ever feel like getting something for the class, we could always use more Expo markers.

Food and Drink

Water is fine except during labs.

Anything else, you have before and after class outside of the classroom.

Please plan ahead, it sucks to have to throw out something perfectly good.

Packing Up

You are expected to be ready to learn from bell to bell.

Packing up early is not appropriate. HeLa is a small school; you will make your next class.

Going to the Restroom

Bathroom breaks should be short and infrequent. I try to schedule a bathroom break time on block days; if at all possible, please try to wait until we have a break.

I'm responsible for knowing where you are at all times. If you do need to use the restroom, you need to ask before going.

If I'm giving instruction, about to give instruction, or someone else is in the restroom, it's generally an inappropriate time for you to leave.


Leave no trace in our classroom.

It's no ones job to pick up after you.

It's good to remember that if you aren't carrying your own weight, someone else is carrying it for you.

This Year

We are going to spend a lot of time together, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

I think that Chemistry really is for everyone, and my hope is that you can leave this class with some good skills for learning more science, and some of the basic chemistry that can help you to understand some of the interesting things you see in the world, as well as ideas that you can build from as you go onto take biology and more advanced chemistry and science courses.