Thornton Academy News

Spotlight on STEM: Mr. Carbone’s Hybrid Lab is a “Sweet” Success!

Curious how some STEM teachers are navigating labs in a hybrid format? Last week, we got a closer look at how one AP Biology class at TA participates in labs, both in-person and at home. STEM faculty member Mr. Mike Carbone is exploring a lab format that allows two groups to interact and collaborate at once. His class is composed of members from Cohort A (students with last names A-K), Cohort B students with last names L-Z), and 2 students who are fully remote. Students in the room serve as the “hands” of the experience (i.e. manipulate all lab equipment and serve as cameramen using an iPad), while remote students do calculations, share research, collect data, and perform other procedures. 

Mr. Carbone deftly supervises both groups—one in Zoom and the other in Google Meet. This allows all students to see and hear everything involved in the project, and gives Mr. Carbone the ability to have the audio on for both groups, while unmuting and jumping in as needed.  Each group also used a tool called Google Jamboard to collect data and calculations on a collaborative whiteboard (or “Jam”) that is projected for the class to observe. 

This particular lab offered a “sweet” opportunity to study diffusion through a semipermeable membrane. Students prepared sucrose (table sugar) solutions of varying concentration, which will eventually be used to determine the solute concentration of potato cells. They were tasked with determining the molecular mass of a sucrose molecule, then calculating the number of grams of sucrose needed to make five solutions of differing molarity.

On top of additional physical distancing required by TA's current hybrid learning model, AP Bio students were vigilant about observing school-wide precautions, like mask wearing and hand hygiene. They also wore nitrile gloves and face shields for the duration of the lab.

Esther Ofielu ’21, a full-time remote student, participated from home. She feels this format works, especially considering the challenges presented by a global pandemic. “Remote learning at TA really hasn’t greatly hindered my education," explained Esther. “I'm still getting all of the information I need to excel in my classes. I would prefer being in person, but remote learning really is a good alternative.”

Kudos to Mr. Carbone, his students, and the entire STEM Department
for experimenting with learning formats in order to keep students connected and engaged!