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Need Help?

Dear Labby,
My chemistry classroom has no working gas, fume hoods, or sinks at the lab benches. It does not feel like a functional laboratory space, and I am limited on the type of labs I can do with my classes. I'm a veteran chemistry teacher, but new to my current district. So far, the school and district administrators are not interested in investing in the laboratory to fix these issues. Any suggestions?
Irritated with Infrastructure

Dear Irritated with Infrastructure,

Although, in some cases, we may be lacking in resources, we are never lacking in the ability to advocate for opportunity. This would be a perfect opportunity to find someone who is a difference-maker to have a conversation with to engage in the “why.” Always keep your local school administration in the loop if conversations are happening outside of the building. Sometimes, the lack of allocation of resources can be attributed to the lack of understanding of the purpose, which in many cases can lead to positive learning gains or simply the safety and well-being of students. Although, in this case, change may not be immediate, the influence of expressing the why with the authority to make a change can impact further discussion and advocacy.

ACS has provided guidance for secondary (6th—12th) educators that can be a helpful resource in this case. It will be helpful to link labs to specific standards. There are many labs that we would love to do; however, we must have a direct link to labs and student achievement. Showing this connection could help you can demonstrate the need for your district to invest in the laboratory. Additionally, if you are in contact with other schools in your district, you can create a small network community to problem solve around similar problems of practice. If resources are limited, it could be possible to develop a shared lab space within your building when it is not possible to provide the necessary equipment and build over time. Another opportunity would be to explore more microscale labs and green chemistry labs. The AACT Kitchen Chemistry resource collection highlights hands-on activities that only require tools and materials from the kitchen, and may be beneficial to browse until your laboratory space improves.

Yours in Chemistry,