IB SL Bio has a reputation like no other science. Except maybe AP Chem, but only the truly chemically dedicated go that far. SL Bio is more like a rite of passage for any aspiring IB Diploma Candidate. Tales of Polly Lodge’s class go so far as the freshman’s mostly oblivious ears. From the moment I accepted my IB fate, I’ve steeled myself for the supposed terror of this science class. Friends and strangers alike have tried to warn me about what I was in for. Here’s my confession: After a term of it, I’m in love with SL Bio.
I think my infatuation started with our trip to the stream. An early Thursday lab found us slogging through the dew of South Lawn. We hiked up our pants and waded into Newtown Creek measuring water depth and wind speed and salinity. I was in love. Why had I waited so long to discover the wonders of the natural world? To pull up a rock for the creatures underneath and to understand this ecosystem?
We didn’t stop there. We went to the beach next. The beach! When do you ever get to go to the beach for a class? This was no ordinary beach day, mind you. We were now serious scientists, to be engaging in serious scientific activities. And I enjoyed testing water salinity and wind speed and dissolved O2 in the bay and the ocean. But what I will always remember is the feeling of understanding the environment I was in. I will remember the purpose I felt in identifying plants and animals, and seeing how they mattered in their habitat. I will remember the part of our full day trip when we went kayaking and saw preservation in action–with both the marsh and the birds the people there were striving to preserve. Polly told us how the best thing we can do to preserve nature was to get out in it. After that trip I understand why. You feel more human when you are surrounded by wild, and your purpose on the earth makes much more sense. That is something I will carry with me far beyond high school.
So now I was hooked. This was my first bio class, and I was desperate to learn all I had neglected to in the last eleven years of my education. Like a prayer being answered, Polly delivered upon us Pig Notes. Now, It should be said that pig notes are far from a pleasant experience. They are a conglomeration of notes from six of the human body’s systems, all in preparation for our fetal pig dissection in second term. These aren’t just notes. These are THE notes. Fifteen pages for each section with colorful, hand-drawn diagrams each worthy of an award. I was in love with the work. It ate my weekend, crippled my hand, and decimated my social life, but I felt so satisfied by the end of it. When we turned it in, on October 4 before 4:00pm, I felt the feeling of a parent, an author, an artist. I had created something beautiful, and had discovered the beauty within my own cells.
See what bio does to you? It makes you a sap, or at least me. A tired, stressed out sap. That’s the thing about SL Bio. It pushes you to your academic limits, but thats just where you need to be to absorb the feast of knowledge that Polly offers you. The labs we get to do are scientist’s dreams. We’ve tested the respiration rates of plants, osmosis through potato strips and sugar solution, and cell respiration in crickets. In class we’ve colored cells and then figured out what makes them tick. We’re able to distinguish monosaccharides from disaccharides and polysaccharides from both, with two little test of I-KI and Benedict’s. Who could have fit that all in to less than three months of bio?
I can’t say that Bio is my easiest class, nor would I want to. I love it for its challenge, and the experience I gain because of that challenge. I love it because I’ve never taken a chance to learn biology before, and now that I’m learning it, theres no other way I would want to.
(Full disclosure, Polly Lodge is my loving and caring advisor. But I would have written this piece anyways, even if I didn’t love her and all she does for me)