Chemistry Students Continue Lab Work with Virtual Learning
Students, professors, and staff at Keene State are finding new, creative ways to continue their work together during the pandemic. When the college announced going remote for the rest of the semester, Professor Denise Junge, who teaches Organic Chemistry II and Fundamentals of Chemistry, had to figure out a way to give her students lab experience without physically being in the lab. “For me, I have tried to keep my courses as normal as I can. I believe students need the structure and the engagement with me and their peers during this transition to online learning,” says Professor Junge. She uses Zoom meetings during regular class times to lecture about new material and answer any questions.
The laboratory component of the course is an opportunity for creativity. Students in Organic Chemistry II have spent the semester synthesizing molecules and then examining their properties using instruments in the lab. “Knowing that I cannot have students performing reactions at their homes, I have transformed the work into activities where students are provided with the spectral data so they can still complete the analysis of the molecules and can achieve the initial objectives of the experiment,” says Professor Junge. She feels lucky her students have adapted so well to the change and has had 100 percent attendance to all her scheduled sessions.
For her Fundamentals of Chemistry course, which is often taken by first-year students, Professor Junge was able to return to campus to record two experiments with the help of Chemistry Department Laboratory Assistant Megan Ferm. She asked her students to take notes and answer prompts while watching the videos. Scheduled Zoom meetings follow, where they can talk about the experiments and get any questions answered.
Emilyann Ashford is a sophomore biology major with a chemistry minor. When asked how online learning is going, she said, “One thing that has helped me the most about virtual learning is my professors’ flexibility and availability. I feel very supported by my chemistry professor, Denise Junge, and my physics professor, George Whittemore. Not only are they willing to help, but I feel that they would also be willing to talk about any other problem not related to academics,” says Emilyann. Preforming the lab element of class at home is challenging but with teachers like Professor Junge and Professor Whittemore they are readily available to help out and answer questions.
During this time, professors and students at Keene State are all in this together. “Online learning is going well but I do miss working with the students in the lab!” says Professor Junge.
By Kylie Hull ’20