What will biology labs look like this year?

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The biology teachers are facing an interesting dilemma during the COVID-19 pandemic: how can we maintain a hands-on lab experience when the majority of our students are learning remotely from home online? Some lab procedures, such as DNA extraction, can be designed as kitchen safe experiments that do not involve specialized equipment or supervision and can be done safely at home by students. In other cases, for safety reasons, the experiment should not be taken outside the laboratory. Chemicals need to be handled and disposed of correctly. Lab procedures need to be supervised to ensure that the students remain safe.

This year in biology class, we are using a combination of online inquiries, simulations, live online lab demos, thought experiments, problem based learning challenges, and synchronous interactive wet lab inquiries. There are many great online simulations that students may use to help them understand particular concepts. Students follow procedures and use an interactive simulation to collect and analyze data, practice lab procedures, or complete a series of related problems. Alternatively, students can view the lab via live camera, even designing the experiment themselves. They engage with the teacher in an interactive format while the lab is being conducted by the teacher in the safety of the lab space at school. All of these synchronous formats allow for live (and lively) discussions and immediate feedback as students work through the inquiries. The small class size at AcadeCap allows for the synchronous online format to be very effective.

Christine Chapman
OSSD Teacher – Biology Modeling molecules using a molecular model set in Biology 12 Picture Example of a synchronous bio-interactive lab inquiry in Biology 11: evolution of Darwin’s finches Picture Example of a synchronous interactive lab inquiry in Biology 12: properties of water Picture Example of a synchronous simulation in Biology 11: Hardy Weinberg principle Picture Example of a synchronous experiment that was designed and conducted by the student at home in Biology 11: the effect of exercise on the cardiovascular system

Source:: PSSP & OSSD

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