Three Labs, One Class and 16 Teachers

It is often said that the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. And seniors in Leslie Webster’s Chemistry II: Advanced Topics class showcased the veracity of this phrase during a special lab day.

These seniors are studying thermochemistry, so Webster gathered three separate labs on this topic and allowed students to choose which interested them most. First was an “inquiry lab”: students determined what material makes the best bench by investigating the heat capacity of different materials. Next was “exothermic vs. endothermic solution formulation”: seniors tried to figure out whether energy was released or absorbed while making different solutions. And finally, the “phase changes and energy” lab: students calculated the molar heat of fusion of water and graphed a heating curve of water through melting and vaporization.

Explaining why she ran the three labs concurrently, Webster shared, “The concepts of these labs are fairly straightforward, so I was hoping the students would be able to run the lab that was the most interesting to them, then present their findings to the class so we could all learn from their experience. In a world with unlimited time, each student could do each lab, but because the concepts overlap and the material is easily digestible, it seemed like a better use of our time. And wow, the kids learn a lot when they have to explain it to others!”

This type of advanced study and operational work has become a regular component of this science elective, which Webster said is part of its success. “This class is an absolute delight to teach! The students know they are getting a challenging class and are willing to put forth effort and attention to learn the material. As always, Parker is a little slice of teacher heaven.”

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.