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General Science and Teaching

"Doing" Science in a Hybrid Educational World

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Heather Mitchell Heather Mitchell 10 Points

I have concerns. We all do. As parents, as educators, as community members, as humans, we all have a newness to contend with that was unimaginable this time last year. 

In the younger grades, at least in our district, science is an all-but-forgotten subject, making way for the classic "three Rs". And this fading and eventual disappearance of developing critical thinking skills through STEM education occurred long before COVID-19 reared it's ugly head. I could discuss this at great length and lament the loss of such education at the formative years, but I digress.

My focus right now is on science laboratory safety. Not the kind that we discuss proper disposals, PPE (which means something different nowadays), and proper procedures, but instead focusing on the doing of science. I am reaching out in hopes that there are science teachers out there who have developed ways to teach laboratory science while still allowing for the safety of students in a classroom setting during this pandemic. What does this look like? Do we, the teachers, disinfect and sanitize each beaker, graduated cylinder, and test tube after each student touches them? Do we have "individual" labwork, then jigsaw our findings in plexi-glass separated labgroup discussion? Do we retreat to unsatisfying (but functional) virtual labs? Do we create "go bags" with science lab materials for students in case schools close down again unexpectedly so that students can continue their science lab activities to grow and develop an understanding of the natural world?

It seems I have more questions than answers, but I have hopes that together, NSTA members and other science teachers (new and veteran) have ideas to ensure our students receive a quality and fair education in the sciences. Or, at least, we can come together to discuss and through the valuable input create some challenging and engaging lessons and materials to continue our students on their learning journey.


Micheal P Floyd Jr Micheal P Floyd Jr 55 Points

First, calm your questioning. Science Labs are no more then a problem as opening and closing a door. COVID is a cold that Kills, and it doesn’t care. So as Science Labs function prior to COVID19, so do they now. But their is ONE change, have the Children clean their equipment after each use, and to wash their hands... all with soap and water. No worries. I am sorry for your community and their lack of knowledge, lack of priority for Science, and our knowledge of same falling upon deaf ears but as humans, as a species, we tend to digress upon those things we don’t fully see until we find ourselves on deaths door. I know this, and so does each of us who understands the water cycle... so many do not. Try to remember your basic knowledge of Scientific Law and you’ll succeed.

Joseph Bellina Joseph Bellina 160 Points

Two points.  First, remember that the chief was the virus is spread is vocal, that is speaking so vapor is projected into anothers mouth and nose.  This is no evidence that the virus is spread by contact and it is with others.  So perhaps reasonable care washing glassware as you woud normally will be enough to minimize transmission.

Second, since science is minds on as well as hand on, perhaps moving the focus to discussion ideas associated with observations, based perhaps on demonstrations, might be safer way to go.



Joseph Bellina Joseph Bellina 160 Points


Emily Faulconer Emily Faulconer 5215 Points

You pose great questions about how to approach the new reality for science labs. I don't have any answers for you. But I do sympathize. I'm watching my colleagues on the residential campus scramble with changing mandates from leadership. I'm teaching fully online, using a mail-order laboratory kit. This, unfortunately, has not been immune to COVID. The shipment of kits is often delayed by 2+ weeks. In a 9 week course, this is severe. 

Heather Mitchell Heather Mitchell 10 Points

Thank you, Emily. We're all adjusting, I suppose. The 2 week delay during a 9 week course MUST have an answer......I wish I had that for you.

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