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Phosphodiester what? The biochemistry of the DNA backbone

Picture it: You're sitting in class and you keep hearing some stuff about phopsphodiester bonds... um... what? You know it forms links in the DNA deoxyribose backbone but... wait, what? If you have not had much chemistry start reading here; if you've taken organic chem feel free to skip ahead. Let's take it from the top. You always hear that all life is organic... Wait, Like Organic Chemistry? Yup! Organic refers to carbon. So now that we know we're talking about carbon bonds here, what do they look like? Well, like this: See how the red dots on the hydrogen atoms become shared with carbon atoms in pairs? These are your basic covalent bonds; or bonds that share electrons between atoms. Take it from me, after you have enough chemistry you get real tired of drawing all of those dots real quick so we can just draw little lines instead; it means the same exact thing: covalent bond. Now,... read more

Chemistry and Biochemistry made super easy!

Hi! Welcome to my blog :) I am new to WyzAnt and can't wait to help demystify General Chemistry and Biochemistry for you! Being a student myself and having helped out my sixteen year old sister with her Chemistry classes in high school, I understand the challenges you face while learning Chemistry.  In my experience, I found that generally learning challenges can be categorized into three broad categories- reading and understanding complex material, retaining and recalling that information precisely, and lastly, of accurately expressing themselves in their responses on tests. As a fourth year Neuroscience and pre-med major at UC Riverside, my own strategies to master the rigors of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Cell Biology rewarded me with straight A’s, and landed me on the Dean’s Honor’s List. I want to share my creative learning tricks and tips with you and help you enjoy your subject while improving your scores! 

Tutoring with Online Technology - Skype and Scribblar - Long-distance Schools without Walls

Times are definitely changing in the world of education. Today, as with all things twenty-first century, there are no limits to a student's education. This is absolutely exciting since so many 'schools without walls' have adopted various technologies during the past few years to enable students excel academically. As an advanced tutor, it makes me dance in my shoes. Universities such as Harvard, Princeton, and MIT have posted several free virtual lectures for the average student on education applications via android devices, iPads, iPhones, and iPods. Today, I want to introduce some fantastic techniques to approach tutoring that will benefit the student who cannot meet physically with a tutor, or maybe a student who is in a town on one end of the United States while their tutor is at the opposite end of the map. Yes, tutoring can now be employed with the use of fantastic applications such as Skype and Scribblar. Skype: This is a tool by which a tutor can see his/her... read more

My guidelines

Give positive feedback, use encouraging vocabulary Find success, and reinforce effort, in even minor accomplishment ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ A tutor provides expertise, experience, and encouragement. They do not provide "answers," but rather assist in problem solving, in getting answers. The challenge is to focus on assignments within the context they are assigned. Tutors should not be expected to diagnose learning disabilities. Diagnosis should take place outside of the tutoring process by a professional academic counselor. If a larger problem becomes apparent, referral is the best strategy. Tutoring strategies: Seek out training to be a more effective tutor: This includes subject matter as well as the tutoring procedures Clearly establish expectations for your learner What are the expectations of the learner? of the teacher? and of those close to the learner (classmates,... read more

Molecular geometry, electron geometry, covalent bonds: N-A equals S equation

The equation below is used for Covalent Bonds, Molecular geometry, electron geometry, and structural formulas to figure the number of bonds in a molecule. N-A = S equation to figure the number of bonds in a molecule N = needed: the sum of the number of valence electrons needed by each atom (2 for hydrogen, 8 for all other atoms) A = available: the sum of the number of valence electrons available for each atom S = shared: the number of electrons shared in the molecule S/2 = the number of covalent bonds in the molecule If you need any help with these concepts, please contact me for tutoring. Thank you very much, John M.

Math, Science, Exercise - One of these things is not like the other - or is it?

I’m not good at this! I don’t like it! Why do I have to do this? Were these questions my students were asking the other day? No, these were things I was saying at the gym yesterday. I hate to exercise. I’m definitely not good at it. I’m definitely not very highly motivated. Yet, I go there 4 times a week, because I know it is good for me, and I don’t like how I feel when I don’t go. Now, occasionally, a student will ask me these same questions and I admit, until I actually heard myself complain at the gym yesterday, I was sympathetic, but I didn’t get it. I love math. I love science. I find it interesting and I do well in it. Why wouldn’t I want to learn more? Why wouldn’t I practice more? For every question I felt positive about in math/science, I could hear my negative response if I was thinking about that answer in terms of the gym. So, OK, I get it, math-science, not your thing. But I guarantee you that working consistently on something, even if you do not... read more


SOH CAH TOA When working with Right Triangles in any Math and Science subject, especially Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Chemistry, and Physics, many problems can be solved by remembering this Memory Jogger: Indian Chief SOH CAH TOA (sounds like soow caah towaah) Angle = A Sine A = Opposite/Hypotenuse Cosine A = Adjacent/Hypotenuse Tangent A = Opposite/Adjacent You can use these formulas to calculate and find missing angles or sides to solve various problems. Please contact me to help your student achieve the best grades possible in Math and Science. As a Chemical Engineer, I work on Math and Science problems all day, and tutor students in Math and Science in the evenings and weekends, including students from Elementary School to College Graduate School. I help students learn to see how Math and Science can be fun and useful in daily life, school, and career choices. All the best, John M.

Calling all students

I'm new to this site and can't wait to help you. Got questions? I got answers! Whether you need some simple study skills and techniques or if you have very specific problems in a subject, I can help. Let me show you how all these subjects work together and are not isolated disciplines that you're never going to use. I'll show you the relevance of each subject and how they're all integrated. Learning is so much fun when you understand why you need to know.

Microbiology Tips

(1) To help understand and remember taxonomy (how organisms are organized), create Excel spreadsheets with the different taxonomic groups and characteristics that distinguish them from one another. (2) For dichotomous keys, first ask a question that separates bacteria out into two large groups, then ask questions that separate bacteria into smaller and smaller groups. (3) Know the differences between rRNA (ribosomal RNA) and mRNA (messenger RNA).

Science and Writing - A way for all levels of students to progress

Most of us tend to think that science is all about equations. But language is just as important as numbers are to the scientific endeavor. E.O. Wilson, the famous biologist, once stated that he doesn't even consider himself as acting like a scientist until he sits down and starts writing. Words are central to science, and so when you're teaching or studying the sciences, it's a good idea to focus on writing as a tool for learning. What I recommend for my students is to build a master list of new vocabulary terms. I have them write definitions in their own words of what those terms mean, and I use that list to quiz them. This serves a few purposes. First, it helps students build their understanding of language of science. Second, for who struggle with attention or other learning disabilities, it helps them to focus on the key ideas of the course. As a grad student in science education I learned that there is a lot of evidence to indicate that revising notes, focusing on... read more

Test-taking Tips

Top Ten Test-Taking Tips for Students Here are the top ten tips to success! 1. Have a Positive Attitude Approach the big test as you'd approach a giant jigsaw puzzle. It might be tough, but you can do it! A positive attitude goes a long way toward success. 2. Make a Plan The week before the test, ask your teacher what the test is going to cover. Is it from the textbook only? Class notes? Can you use your calculator? If you've been absent, talk to friends about material you may have missed. Make a list of the most important topics to be covered and use that as a guide when you study. Circle items that you know will require extra time. Be sure to plan extra time to study the most challenging topics. 3. The Night Before Cramming doesn't work. If you've followed a study plan, the night before the test you should do a quick review and get to bed early. Remember, your brain and body need sleep to function well, so don't stay up late! 4. The... read more

Gaining Acceptance to Medical School

Many students enter college with the intention of gaining acceptance to medical school. Many, however, lack adequate knowledge of the admissions process, which hampers their odds of success. In the 2007-2008 application season, for example, 42,231 individuals applied to one or more of 126 allopathic programs. Ultimately, only 18,036 of these applicants had matriculated into a medical school. That is a success rate of only 42.7%! Given the competitive nature of the application process, you'll need every advantage possible in order to maximize your own odds of acceptance. I've been through this difficult process myself, and having gained admission to UF College of Medicine, I'd like to offer my advice to future applicants. In this series of blog posts, I will explain the basics of the process and point out where individuals are most likely to fail. The medical school application process is very competitive compared to what it once was and has changed from even a decade... read more

Get Ready for Success!

Happy New Year! Are you ready for the new semester? No matter where you are in your education, first semester in college, or headed into that last one before graduation, being properly prepared will make all the difference! 1. Meet with an advisor and enroll as early as possible. 2. Get your books as soon as you can. Read through the table of contents and flip through he book to get an idea of what the course material will look like. 3. Know your schedule. Will you need to get up earlier then you are now? Now is a good time to start getting in a morning routine. 4. Get a planner (or use the calendar in your phone) to organize your schedule. This will help reduce cramming and over scheduling your time. Be sure to block out needed time for homework. I fill in all of my quizzes, exams, and reports due as soon as I know of them. 5. Get plenty of sleep, water, and good food. Healthy snacks will help stabilize your energy levels and give you needed brain... read more

Making Molecules Real: DNA, Toilet Paper, and Tape

I am home tutoring again after a long break when I was developing textbooks and other educational materials. When I returned to Wyzant, I found all these new features and doodads, including this blog function, so I figured why not tell a story about a previous rewarding tutoring experience? DNA is a long, thin molecule, a polymer, made up of monomers joined together. My student understood that perfectly well. She also understood restriction endonucleases. These are enzymes that cut DNA only at certain recognition sequences. What she didn’t understand is that DNA molecules are objects in the real world, and they behave like similar real objects. That lack of understanding prevented her from answering homework questions about recombinant DNA techniques. Her professor had drawn a loop and a line segment on the blackboard. The loop was a plasmid, a circle of DNA, and the segment was a piece of linear DNA. Next, her professor had drawn two separated hash marks... read more

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