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.