Making Science Fun, Pt 2

July 23, 2014 5:30 pm Published by

Editor’s Note: Guest Blogger Borna Kassiri was an intern at JBFC this summer, who worked to improve the science curriculum at Joseph & Mary Schools. To read the first part of his blog, click here.

When we last left off, I had tested out my lab curriculum and started meeting with the Joseph and Mary faculty about teaching the labs. Now that I have arrived safely at home and had a chance to reflect on my trip, I believe that my project wrapped up successfully!

Preparing for my first lab session, I brought the appropriate glassware I had bought into the Form 3 (10th grade) classroom. I saw the students’ faces light up with curiosity. These anxious, smart students seemed excited about having a chance to interact with chemistry.

 I vividly remember my first lab period. The chemistry teacher and I co-facilitated a lab called Forming Precipitates, where the students mixed two clear solutions (one of magnesium sulfate, or Epsom Salt, and the other of sodium carbonate, or Washing Soda) and produced a white, insoluble solid in their combined solution.

I introduced the lab and the concepts being explored (double replacement reactions), wrote out the procedure on the board, explained how to use the glassware, and told the students that they were free to perform the lab in groups. At first, they were apprehensive, not sure if they were able to perform an entire lab on their own. However, with a little encouragement, some groups started to grab some beakers and chemicals, and they began following the steps independently. The scene quickly turned into something I could have only hoped for. The students were talking to each other questioning their actions and clarifying the procedural steps. They were measuring water using graduated cylinders and obtaining the right amount of chemicals. The classroom turned into a true chemistry lab period. The students’ intense focus, curiosity, and hard work proved to me that they were really enjoying their interaction with chemistry. I just had to stand back and watch the science unfold.

You can imagine their faces when they completed the lab successfully. They were surprised, excited, and eager to learn about what they had just observed. All of a sudden, they bombarded the teacher and I with questions. It filled my heart with joy to see them so enthusiastic about the lab because, at that moment, I knew that they would really benefit from the curriculum.

Throughout the rest of my stay, the majority of my labs proceeded similarly to my first one, even with different grades (including Grade 7, Form 1, and Form 2). Each class brought their own enthusiasm and independence to the lab sessions. I ended the trip with the satisfaction that my lab curriculum would sustain through the efforts of the chemistry teacher and the Joseph and Mary faculty. Through my co-facilitation and meetings with the chemistry teacher, I am confident that he will be able to perform the labs with the students in the years to come. I cannot wait to go back to JBFC in the coming years to see all of the wonderful people and check in on how the labs are going!

Borna Kassiri is a Duke University Junior. He has visited JBFC two summers in a row.

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This post was written by Mainsprings