Returning to Lab means returning to labs
For Zachary Hund's Chemistry students, experimenting remotely has been... a bit of an experiment. "Chemistry is all about experimenting, you can't do chemistry without DOING chemistry," says Hund. "With a class like Intro to Chemistry, the goal isn't so much lab skills or experience, we want them to get excited and curious. You learn something in a lecture, gas laws for example, and an experiment gives you the opportunity to actually make the connection of the theory or the law. They see it in action in an experiment and suddenly they understand the relationship between pressure and volume."
With remote learning, it wasn't feasible to make kits or redesign experiments to be done at home. "We asked ourselves, well what do we do? We can make videos of ourselves doing the experiments. Dr. Fournillier and myself would record ourselves doing the labs. This allowed the students to get that practice of what it looks like, what's happening. I think the biggest benefit to that is we now have built an entire resource of supplemental videos so in future years, if we have a student who is out sick or can't make class for whatever reason, we can share that with them and they can still get the lesson."
Now that students are returning with hybrid in-person learning, Hund says they're excited to crank those bunsen burners. "Students were jumping at the bit with the thought of coming back saying, 'please, we want to do labs.' Now they're here, they're excited, smiling, laughing, having a good time. It was huge to them but very important to me as well." Hund has a double period and through remote learning, they've been using one of those periods for Zoom meetings in class and the other for asynchronous work. "All the students, remote or in-person, they're getting the same lecture. And now I can also have students here and at home doing the same labs. For the students who are still remote, I've made the best of the situation in that I'm not taking anything away but I'm also giving something to the students that have the option. It was a lot of work to make remote work, but really doing chemistry and seeing the students doing chemistry? They're smiling and I'm smiling. To me, personally, it's worth it."