chemistry

Students conducting their chemistry lab in-person for two weeks with Candace Biggerstaff (far left), the teaching lab specialist for Chemistry I.

UF’s new hybrid chemistry lab now allows students to have the flexibility to complete assignments online and still meet with their instructors face-to-face for labs.

Alexys Dew, a 19-year-old UF microbiology and cell science sophomore, is one of nine students in the new lab.

“I think it’s very cool that it gives you the ability to be able to learn in a UF class instead of just doing it online,” Dew said. “It’s really neat to physically be here and have people you can actually ask questions to, aside from GroupMe,” Dew said.

Melanie Veige, UF director of general chemistry, said the lab teaches the same topics normally covered in General Chemistry 1 laboratory such as measurements and how to use tools like Bunsen burners and balances. The traditional lab and new one are also similar covering topics such as dilution and electrolytes.

“It’s something we’ve never done before,” she said.

The chemistry department is very excited about this different way to approach the lab and to provide it in a different format, Veige said.

Evangeline Cummings, assistant provost and director of UF Online, said the chemistry lab is taken over the Summer A term for six weeks. The first three weeks are 100 percent online where students complete exercises and watch lessons. During the next two weeks, the students come to campus to conduct their chemistry labs. In the last week, the students finish up any outstanding assignments online.

“It really provides great flexibility for students that want the same rigor and the same learning outcomes, but they want a more flexible format,” she said.

Cummings said UF has been working with a statewide task force for a couple of years to figure out how the State University System of Florida can provide online students with good labs. This new chemistry lab allows UF to provide courses in different formats and to enhance access for students.

“The really cool thing about this lab is that it is UF faculty that made it happen, but it’s also completely connected to this conversation statewide about how to do online labs really well,” Cummings said. “It’s a great example of the University of Florida innovating but also collaborating and working as a state to share ideas and to provide these really neat options for online students.”