Athens, OH 18 October 2020 –
When it was announced that the fall 2020 semester was going to be online for phase 1, I was concerned about what my analytical chemistry lab would look like. Usually, labs are performed with a small group of peers in order to understand how the process works. Then, students would complete calculations and answer questions using the data from the procedures they completed. But due to COVID-19, my lab changed into an online course.
My professor, Dr. Barlag (AKA Becky), decided to reimagine how a lab class should work. In her words, we are going to learn “how to do the lab” instead of how to work in the lab. Now, we are more focused on the processes and equations than something like how to properly titrate. We still watch videos of the labs being performed and read lab procedures to know what is going on, but focusing more on the actual chemistry behind it gives us a different perspective.
The first few weeks of the course focused on lab safety, equipment, organization, and chemical hygiene training. Now we are doing the labs by watching videos of some of the procedures to visualize, reading the background and steps, doing the calculations with data given to us, and answering questions relating to how the lab works. We also still write a lab report in a notebook and fill out an Excel sheet like a traditional lab would.
I think Becky and the TA did a great job at transforming the lab from a traditional to an online setting, since I’m learning about the chemistry, but not completely missing out on the fun of in-person labs!