Science classes must find a way to meet lab requirements whilst at home. Photo by Andrew Hsieh.
Fountain Valley High School

FVHS science classes strive to hold labs amid pandemic learning

Distance and hybrid learning poses a range of challenges across all subject areas as is the case with lab sciences. Hybrid students will conduct labs with a smaller number of peers. Students opting for distance learning face even more challenges.

Some students who are in the virtual model have said they do not feel they will learn as much through online labs as they would by conducting labs in-person.

“Since science is being strictly online this year, I personally think the learning process will not be the same traditionally. It’s better to do labs as a class together because it helps us learn more of the subject we are learning than individually at home,” senior Anton Pham said.

Others, however, are confident that conducting labs at home will work out.

“There are definitely variables you have to overcome, however, Ms. Battig does the best she can to work with the materials you have access to at home,” senior Brenda Pham said.

Some teachers, such as biology and physical science teacher Katrina Brighton, agree with Pham and think students can be successful in distance learning.

“At first, I was nervous about teaching online but now I am feeling comfortable with the format and procedures that my classes have been using,” Brighton said. “Some students seem to be thriving in the online setting. While I am definitely covering less content than I normally would, students’ success and grades are highly variable and dependent on many different factors.”

On the other hand, some teachers think that learning science online will not provide the same amount of knowledge and experience as being in person.

“Online learning has set every student back at least a year,” chemistry teacher Michael Olsberg said. “I wish we were all back in class going to school just like 2019.”

As for how labs will be conducted when hybrid students return, teachers are taking different approaches depending on the subject they are teaching.

“I will most likely be using Gizmos for virtual labs/simulations to support student learning,” Brighton said. “In order to keep things equitable for all students, my plan is to use Gizmos as much as possible because all students have access to the website.”

Other teachers chose to resume physical labs with proper safety precautions, such as practicing social distancing and wearing masks.

“I will be performing a laboratory every week,” Olsberg said. “We will space the students out safely.”

Students may find that this year comes with a lot more stress, as learning isn’t in their own hands now and depends on a lot of unpredictable factors. With that being said, some students could see a dip in their grades as the physical human aspect of learning is gone.

One thing is certain: this year will be different, and it could be tough for students to adjust. Although they may not get the same experience as with past school years, students can gain the experience of overcoming a challenge as they navigate online learning.