Chemistry labs adapt to follow social distancing guidelines

As+students+navigate+the+school+year%2C+both+in-person+and+virtual+students+have+had+to+adapt+to+certain+changes.+Among+said+changes%2C+chemistry+labs+takes+its+place.

Jordan Battey

As students navigate the school year, both in-person and virtual students have had to adapt to certain changes. Among said changes, chemistry labs takes its place.

Jordan Battey, Staff Reporter

Chemistry labs have always been an essential tool to get students interested in scientific topics through hands-on exploration, but social distancing requirements have complicated typical lab procedures. 

“For my face to face students only half of the class will be at the lab tables at a time so that there are not as many people one on side of the room,” chemistry teacher Angela Montgomery said. “Unfortunately there are labs that we are probably not going to be able to do because they take the whole class period and we have to divide the class in half. As for the virtual kids, we are still trying to give them some lab experience. For example, I filmed a flame emission lab the other day with my Chromebook so they could see it and still write down their data. Of course, It is not as good of an experience as being in the lab, but better than just giving them data.”

PAP Chemistry virtual student sophomore Shannon Christian has experienced some of these challenges first hand.

“As a hands-on person, I’ve struggled with not actually performing the experiment but watching it instead,” Christian said via text. “However, I feel like I’m still able to learn as well as I would in a classroom because you’re doing all of it yourself so you know where you struggle and where you excel. The virtual labs are also guided like a lesson which helps a lot.”

Although watching labs online is a challenge for some students, sophomore Akanksha Mehta, who transferred to in-person learning on the 19th, found some positives to learning this way.

“I’ve noticed that there are positives to learning this way, including that the results of the lab are accurate and you can be sure that the process has been completed thoroughly,” Mehta said via text. “The explanations that teachers are able to provide through the use of videos are also very helpful in understanding the material.”

In the classroom, face-to-face students, such as sophomore Rachel Kim, now wipe down safety goggles with an alcohol wipe before putting them in the storage cabinet, which has a UV light to kill additional germs.

“I feel that most procedures, like wearing goggles and cleaning up after the lab, have not changed much,” Kim said. “However, due to COVID-19, we are limited to the number of people at a lab table and have to wear masks. I feel that these changes make it slightly harder to do labs, because there’s less people who can help.”