When it came time to stream his Organic Chemistry course (CHEM 3202) on April 1, 2020, Chemistry Prof. Jeff Manthorpe knew just what to do. Donning a Cookie Monster costume, he delivered the online class – on the topic of cycloadditions – entirely in the character of the beloved Sesame Street character, cookies and all.

“We are in a strange, unprecedented time in human history,” said Prof. Manthorpe, referring to COVID-19 and the unparalleled social distancing rules that have taken effect nearly everywhere,  Carleton included. “It’s quite understandable that everyone, including students, are confused, uncomfortable and experiencing unusually high levels of stress. One of the best ways to combat stress is to have a good laugh and to that end, April Fools’ Day certainly has traditionally been a day of lighthearted practical jokes.”

“As the saying goes, ‘everybody plays the fool sometimes’; however, that’s often not a welcome experience, especially when one is already stressed and their involvement is involuntary. Accordingly, the current circumstances dictate that one must exercise extreme caution in such endeavours. So me solution to this was to make myself the prank.”

As Cookie Monster, Manthorpe made sure to use cookies as props to better help his students understand this tricky topic.

“Okay, lots of people know that not everybody love organic chemistry, so me try to make organic chemistry more palatable (see what me did there?) by combining it with two things everybody love: cookies and Cookie Monster!”

Manthorpe, who is the founder and director of Carleton University’s annual Chemistry Magic Show, is known for his lighthearted but effective teaching approach. He often conducts “spooky science experiments” for the public on local TV stations.

Click here to view the full lecture.

Photo by unsplash-logoJason Jarrach.

Friday, April 3, 2020 in
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