Playing LEGO with atoms
Honours student (Bachelor of Science)
College of Sciences and Engineering, University of Tasmania
I want a job where I set fire to things on a regular basis. I want to make funny smells, funky colours and beautiful crystals. That’s why I do chemistry .
Chemistry has a reputation as being really complicated and hard, but I don’t think that’s true. Instead of doing mind-bending maths or looking at slime down a microscope, my job is to throw things in a flask and see what happens. If it goes purple, then I have to figure out why. If nothing happens, I still have to figure out why. That’s part of what makes it exciting. The other part is the chemicals I use; some catch fire when you open the bottle.
My type of chemistry is called synthesis, which means “making stuff”. I try to build molecules just like you build a LEGO set; I put small, simple pieces together to make something larger and more complicated. Just like with LEGO, you don’t have to follow the instructions. With about a hundred different pieces (the elements), the possibilities are infinite.
Science was always the most fun subject for me. In grade 12, I had a wicked chemistry teacher, and that was all I needed to get me started. I found YouTube videos of people doing chemistry with stuff you could buy from the supermarket, so I gave that a go. I launched my first rocket at the end of grade 12, and I’ve been hooked on chemistry ever since.
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