Performing Labs Outside the Lab Room


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Michaela Tubbs wakes up every Tuesday morning to go to her Organic Chemistry lab. Usually, she would spend almost three hours in the classroom and then some time that same week, she would go back to the lab to complete it and prepare for her exam. This semester, she is doing her labs from home. She receives her labs in the mail and completes them in her apartment.

“Doing labs has been so different this semester because instead of doing them in a lab, I get mailed mini lab kits,” Michaela Tubbs, a junior at California University of Pennsylvania said. “But some of them have actually been pretty fun, like growing plants or doing gel electrophoresis, which is basically watching DNA samples move through a gel solution to identify unknowns.”

McKayla King, a junior Biology major at Cal U is also encountering at home labs for the first time.

“It’s definitely weird not being hands on,” King said. “The labs have varied in classes, but it’s just odd not being able to complete full experiments myself in the lab.”

King said that she likes these at home labs because she is actually learning more about them.

King also said that while sometimes she thinks the labs may seem easier, getting accustomed to working around personal belongings was a new struggle that had not been a factor in the classroom.

King also talked about how being at home can affect the labs as well.

“We had to adapt to grow bacteria in our homes rather than in an incubator,” King said. “Aseptic techniques have also been slightly more challenging since a lot of us are doing these in our bedrooms or kitchens where there’s other bacteria that could harm our samples around our house.”

Tubbs said that she is glad that she still gets to work with the same peers that she would normally work with on campus, but that taking the labs has been a learning curve in regard to the lab reports and having to occasionally watch videos instead of actually completing labs by herself or with others.

“All of the labs have the same back bone for sure,” Tubbs said about the similarity between at home lab kits and in class labs. “But sometimes we don’t get our kits in on time so we have to figure out something else, and it’s definitely not the same as it would have been on campus.”

Brianne Camesi, a senior Biology student at Cal U, said that her at home labs are extremely different from taking labs on campus, although the lectures have been very much the same.

“Only the research design and analysis lab would be like on campus labs,” she said.

“The labs have been more difficult because they usually expect us to write more than physically doing a lab,” Camesi said. “It is more writing intensive when they used to be mostly physically doing things”

Camesi also said she doesn’t feel that she is getting the same “quality experience” with online labs compared to the labs on campus.

“This semester has definitely proved challenging with keeping up with deadlines and finding the motivation to get all that work done,” Tubbs said. “I’m hopeful to get back to campus soon. I’ve gained a new appreciation for campus life and the benefits of learning in the classroom.”