Teaching science (high school and seniors) post coronavirus

In summary: It has been interesting to see the range of responses from those who have tried it and loved it to those who are totally opposed to it.In summary, one school is planning how to manage social distancing in the new school year by having students work 'shifts' where one week in school, one week at home. With technology in place to allow this, some concerns are raised about how science teaching will be managed. There are several issues that are raised that need to be considered, such as how practical work will be managed, and how classes will be livestreamed to those at home.
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rsk

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With social distancing likely to be still important for the foreseeable future, some schools are planning how to manage this in the new school year when students return.

I spoke to one school manager this week who suggests students will work 'shifts' - in this case one week in school, one week at home. Those at home will continue to study remotely, with lessons broadcast live via internet. The school is (apparently) already getting the technology in place to allow this.

How do you see this working in science teaching? My immediate thought was to wonder how I would organise practical work, so that each group gets its fair share: would I repeat key practicals with both groups? would one group get to do the practical and the other group just to watch? But there are several other issues which are particularly pertinent to science teaching. Will the technology be flexible enough to properly share/broadcast practical work or will it consist of a camera pointing at the front of the class where the teacher is imagined to be? That would limit the teacher's personal interaction with students in ALL subjects but surely this will be more of an issue in science where students are engaged in practical work?

Has anyone got to the stage of real, practical preparations for this yet?

I'd welcome your ideas and thoughts on this. My experience is that plans are often made before/without consultation and that the particular requirements of science can be overlooked.
 
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I would try to set a schedule where each group did the same number of labs/practical work, it would be double work on your part, but the students would at least have the same opportunities.

This is as whole new paradigm, there are a bunch of people thinking about this, AAPT is doing a weekly happy hour to discuss how to teach physics down the road under these situations.
 
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Thanks for this.

I'm thinking about two possibilities - First where I do each prac once, but try to arrange them so that each group gets a fair share of doing the practicals and watching online while the other group does them; Second where both groups get to do the same key practicals. The main problem here would be lack of time to repeat practical classes, but there's also the issue of managing what one class does when they're supposed to be watching the other group do a prac which they themselves have already done.

At the core of my unease, I think, is the feeling that the plan devised by schools will be based on a model which ignores the particular needs of practical subjects, imagining that all classes of whatever subject follow a similar pattern. And that's without yet considering the issues involved in group practical work where pupils need to be closer than the recommended 2m.

I will investigate the AAPT discussions - so thanks for that suggestion - and also look at what discussions are going on elsewhere in the world.
 
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I would think about setting up an "A" and a "B" section, and essentially having two schedules

Week 1: "A" does topic 1, "B" does topic 2.
Week 2: "A" does topic 2, "B" does topic 1.

etc...
 
  • #5
Since you are focusing on experiments at the high-school level, there is the option of designing experiments that the students can do at home with household items. I believe there are websites and resources that have guidance on the types of experiments that students can do. You can even set up packages with a few necessary items (such as springs, etc.) for students to take with them and perform at home.

But even more than that, and I have assigned this to my own students in college-level General Physics classes, is the fact that most of them own smart phones, and there are apps that one can install that turns the smartphones into a measuring device. I have Gauges on iPhone that measures acceleration, velocity, altitude, atmospheric pressure, magnetic field, sound level, and luminance. You can design quite a number of activities using something that can measure those.

And maybe that is the change in mind set that we need to think about, i.e. these should be "activities" that are incorporated as part of learning, rather than a separate "experiment".

Zz.
 
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Yes, that sounds perfectly sensible to me - but doesn't fit with the idea that classes should be livestreamed to those at home. I think that was the comment that unsettled me. It's possible (as is often the case) that the manager who mentioned this to me was not a scientist and so hadn't considered the implcations there. Hopefully staff will get input into these decisions.

As for the mobile phone physics - yes indeed, we have used that to some extent in class pre-lockdown and of course during lockdown and I've been working quite a bit on devising easy-to-do-with-a-phone-and-stuff-you-can-find-at-home experiments.
 
  • #7
rsk said:
Yes, that sounds perfectly sensible to me - but doesn't fit with the idea that classes should be livestreamed to those at home.

Are all your students well-to-do and have the technological capabilities to receive those live-streamed lessons? This is something you need to bring up to your administrators.

When we were force to go to remote learning, many of our economically-challenged students could not join my live classes. They either do not have computers, or do not have wifi connection where they live. This was something that many instructors had to take into consideration. It is extremely unfair to penalize students that already are at a disadvantage to give them even more obstacles by making them do something that are not capable of doing.

BTW, why do these experiments and activities must be part of a live-streaming session? Why can't they do this on their own time?

Zz.
 
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ZapperZ said:
Are all your students well-to-do and have the technological capabilities to receive those live-streamed lessons? This is something you need to bring up to your administrators.
I'm currently in a private school that shouldn't be an issue - though it's an easy excuseof course for those students who don't want to participate.
ZapperZ said:
BTW, why do these experiments and activities must be part of a live-streaming session? Why can't they do this on their own time?

That, I think, is the root of my concern. My worry is that a one-size-fits-all model will come as a decree from the top, without input from science (or other) teachers. To my mind, the other options discussed here are far more appropriate in a practical subject.

Some practicals will be done in school - but for one group to do them while the other watches live sounds far from ideal.

gleem said:
McMaster University has come up with a home physics experiment kit for their UG life sciences major physics course which might be adaptable to HS physics course.
https://physicsworld.com/a/physics-...b-kits-to-students-enhances-learning-at-home/
That's very useful thank you, I'll have a look.
 

1. How has the pandemic affected the way science is taught in high school and senior classes?

The pandemic has significantly impacted the way science is taught in high school and senior classes. With the shift to online learning, teachers have had to adapt their lesson plans and find new ways to engage students in virtual classrooms. Hands-on experiments and labs have been replaced with virtual simulations and demonstrations. Additionally, lab equipment and materials may not be readily available to students at home, so teachers have had to get creative with alternative methods of teaching and assessing student understanding.

2. How has the pandemic affected student learning in science classes?

The pandemic has presented many challenges for students in science classes. With the sudden switch to online learning, some students may struggle with the lack of face-to-face interaction and hands-on activities. Additionally, students may not have access to the same resources and materials they would have in a traditional classroom setting. This can make it more difficult for them to fully grasp complex scientific concepts and retain information. However, teachers have been working hard to provide engaging and interactive online lessons to support student learning during this time.

3. How have science teachers adapted their teaching methods to accommodate the changes brought on by the pandemic?

Science teachers have had to be incredibly adaptable and flexible during the pandemic. They have had to find new ways to deliver lessons, such as using online platforms and tools to engage students in virtual labs and activities. Some teachers have also incorporated real-world examples and current events related to the pandemic into their lessons to make them more relevant and relatable to students. Teachers have also had to be more understanding of students' individual circumstances and provide support and accommodations as needed.

4. What resources are available for high school and senior science teachers during the pandemic?

Many educational organizations and institutions have provided resources and support for science teachers during the pandemic. These resources include online lesson plans, virtual lab simulations, and professional development opportunities for teachers to improve their online teaching skills. Additionally, many websites and online platforms offer free educational resources and tools for teachers to use in their virtual classrooms.

5. How can high school and senior science classes continue to be engaging and effective in an online learning environment?

Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, there are still ways to make science classes engaging and effective in an online learning environment. Teachers can use interactive online tools and simulations to keep students engaged and interested in the subject matter. They can also incorporate real-world examples and current events to make the lessons more relevant. Additionally, creating opportunities for students to collaborate and discuss their ideas and findings with their peers can help to maintain a sense of community and engagement in the virtual classroom.

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