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At-home chemistry labs

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In my early teen years, I loved playing with vinegar and baking soda at home during the summer months, but I hated chemistry labs at school. The crowded, hectic, noisy, structured, time-constrained stressful environment wasn't exactly as charming as a bottle popping in my backyard in the warm summer sun.


And now, the next generation of students is facing a situation where school isn't just stressful, but could be a literal threat to life and limb. We are told the teacher must supervise a student in person when they're carrying out chemistry labs; that doing these at home at a distance would be reckless endangerment.


Well, sending kids to school during a pandemic is also reckless endangerment, so the point is moot.


Is there any way to have parents and/or specialized private tutors sign a contract promising they'll supervise the student when they carry out these chemistry labs instead? We hear of parents struggling to help students with homework, but lab safety is more akin to common sense than to esoteric details, and the great outdoors, so long as the chemicals are downwind, reduces the need for a fume hood. Those who work more quickly no longer have to "find other course work" they can do while waiting for the rest of them to finish up, and the ones who work more slowly won't be feeling the stress of how to handle a paraffin wax candle with the feeling they're holding everyone else back making them more nervous... and possibly more clumsy in the process.


The parents who DO want to help their kids carry out these labs will reduce the burden on the tutoring industry, which can handle the rest, and we might be able to not only keep chemistry labs alive during this pandemic, but create a new model of chemistry lab from which more enjoyment can flourish.


The question of how to document whether the students were actually doing these labs or only pretending to is a real one, but there could be all kinds of potential alternative solutions. My personal favourite would be for parents or tutors to film them, just as an incentive for honesty. We already have video projects in media classes, so if the legitimacy of video evidence for the purposes of school were in doubt, so too would the validity of media class assessment.


But regardless of the supposed flaws of that option, that doesn't mean we need to go back to the old model of doing things, especially during a pandemic.


What say you, Science Forums? Are at-home chemistry labs an option worth exploring? If they aren't, is there any way to have them carried out in a setting other than either "at home" or "at school"?

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