• Joanna Mas

Concurrent Chemistry Class Designs Masks

In her chemistry honors class, Mrs. Petra Van’t Slot has utilized the pandemic as a way to become even more creative in her assessments than ever before to accommodate for the changes surrounding concurrent learning.

Mrs. Van't Slot aids Jadan Belen in a laboratory exercise

For her first unit assessment, in place of a test, Mrs. Van’t Slot has elected to assign an assessment that asks students to design their own mask using scientific research to back up their designs. This assessment is meant to gauge students’ understanding of concepts from unit one while giving students more flexibility.

The modifications to her assessment is a result of the need to adapt for remote learning in light of the pandemic. She states, “I think a regular test on paper has its value but it's not the only way for students to show their understanding and it leaves a lot of room for student creativity. I really like to make opportunities for students to be creative in how they demonstrate their understanding of a topic. “I can embrace the fact that students use external resources and work together and I think they are using great skills when they work together and together you work towards a solution.”

Especially during this era of concurrent learning, a focus on community is being drawn to the center. Mrs. Van’t Slot remarks,“I can embrace the fact that students use external resources and work together and I think they are using great skills when they work together and work towards a solution.”

When asked about her reason for choosing an assignment based on face masks during the pandemic, she responds, “I think that it is good because it is realistic and many companies are doing the same thing and putting this into a science class gives all of the students experience in science research.”

On the students’ end, the difference in assessment is unlike anything they’ve been assigned before. Another reason for her choice in assessments is the reduced amounts of anxiety that comes with being able to take their time and work with other students as well as giving them a creative outlet to demonstrate their understanding. “I think that in a regular test, there is a level of expectation and you can’t go beyond that. You can ace the test but you can not do any better than that.”

Room for surprise comes with the new assessments, and positive surprises have abounded as a result of the mask assessment. Mrs. Van’t Slot revealed that “there are always a couple of student projects that completely take me by surprise with the depth of understanding and knowledge that students show that go well beyond what I was expecting.”

While this school year has been riddled with regulations concerning the pandemic, the creativity encouraged by the need for new accommodations has fostered new ideas with positive outcomes.

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