Carolina Biological OSE - August 2023


Forums / Distance Learning / Guidelines for In-Person Labs in the Fall

Distance Learning

Guidelines for In-Person Labs in the Fall

Author Post
Ryan Koon Ryan Koon 20 Points

I am curious to know if the NSTA has released any guidelines for in-person labs in the fall?  Thanks!  Ryan Koon

Todd Graba Todd Graba 465 Points

I too am looking for this. As a science department chair I am wanting to provide as much guidance for the teachers I work with as possible. I'm hoping someone has guidance, ideas, and strategies for thie middle school/high school levels.

Mary Weller Mary Weller 50 Points

YES!  We definitely need to figure out which aspects of lab experiences may be viable and which are not. 

For example, even if we are able to support students in person in labs at some point in 20-21, can we reasonably expect our UV sanitizing cabinets to sanitize goggles sufficiently for shared use?  If not, which would seem likely, what actions and protocols might we consider reasonable so that not only are students safe, but that their parents can trust that we are ensuring their safety?

Mandy Medlin Mandy Medlin 580 Points

I am also wondering about this. The students are no longer allowed to share supplies or sit in groups, so there goes the amazing collaboartive learning that makes science so fun! Most schools will not have enough supplies for each student to do their own experiment, so I would love some ideas of how other teachers plan on completing labs. Should we be looking to substitite some with virtual labs? Thanks!

Peter Ower Peter Ower 140 Points

Virtual labs made the sudden switch to remote learning much more passable. Many of the paid subscriptions were free during April and May. However, they understandably need to return to their paid format.

I teach general science (life and earth). I've found the following to be great, free alternatives to in-person labs:

  • PhET. Many classic Sims for teaching physics and chemistry. But, their wave on a string sim is great for teaching ideas about seismic waves.
  • Concord Plate Tectonics SIMs. Several are listed here. You can build your own planet with plates and test the impact of density on plate collisions.
  • Physics Notes. I don't use this one since I don't teach physics, but it's a great site with notes, sims, questions + answers.

During the intial move to remote learning my department used a free trial from Gizmos/Explore Learning. We also use Amplify Science as our base program which includes several sims as part of their platform. We've had to make modifications to their storylines to make it a better fit for our students (i.e. more engaging, more paths to explore, and more depth to some of the topics). But, because Amplify is tech heavy, it made the remote transition less stressful.

Martha Fout Martha Fout 605 Points

As the Science Cooridinator of a district I am seeking guidance from NSTA on this topic as well.


Stacy Wolff Stacy Wolff 1140 Points

Hi!  I am in the same boat teaching K-5 Science Lab and would love to hear any and all creative ideas!  Thanks!

Alma Chavez Alma Chavez 240 Points

@PeterOwen thank you for these suggestions. They are going to be perfect!!! I wish there was one for turgor pressure, homeostatis, and bohr models.


Nickele Morgan Nickele Morgan 30 Points

I'm looking for specific guidelines as well.  I know that there is plenty to do virtually, but I want to know what kinds of materials I CAN use, and if I do use them, how do they need to be cleaned.  

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