Multimedia by Madeline Hlobik. Photo by Caroline Mills.
Red tape decorates chemistry teacher Jarrod Bardwell’s silver coffee thermos. In black marker, centered on the tape reads “Student Tears.”
Bardwell is the IB Chemistry 2 teacher. He teaches this college level class that has work that most chemistry students would only do in a graduate level chemistry course. For example, they have to design their own labs a couple times a year.
This class of 18 students recently turned in a design lab, a chemistry lab that they literally had to build from the ground up, according to Bardwell.
With so much time and work put into the IB chemistry class, Bardwell says that they are more responsible for learning the material on their own and he is there more to simply administer tests and quizzes.
“IB kids aren’t treated as students of the chemistry program,” Bardwell said. “We always say in class, they are part of the chemistry program instead of a victim of it.”
The stress that comes with the workload of IB chemistry is something that takes a toll on both the students and Bardwell. He said that his students have turned in 100 page design labs in the past, and he had to put a 12 page limit on them this year. He planned on 20 hours of grading and set aside nearly 2 days over Thanksgiving break just to grade the labs.
“I think [Bardwell] does what we do,” Junior and IB chemistry student Pierce Thompson said. “Like nightly panic attacks for the most part. He’ll talk about our schedule and get really wide-eyed because we’re always behind.”
However, Thompson thinks eventually they will get through all the material. Thompson, along with his 18 chemistry classmates, make up the “strange” students Bardwell said are always in his class.
According to Bardwell, they always start out fairly normal, but the longer the year goes on the weirder they become because of how much they are with each other. For example, recently the IB kids put a bunch of blue fish up around the room and told no one why. He said they come up with inside jokes that no one understands and begins pulling pranks on him and each other.
“They are an odd group of kids,” Bardwell said. “But that makes it fun. You never get bored because you don’t know what is going on half the time.”