For many students, taking a science lab course remotely is not ideal. For the physics department, all courses are online with only one hybrid, Modern Physics Laboratory. Thus far, half the students have been on campus for labs on September 11, while the other half of students are expected to step onto the campus grounds on October 9.
With 11 undergraduate physics majors enrolled in the course, half conduct their labs on campus at a time in Ingersoll Hall. The department has devised a plan to ensure that students are socially distanced, yet can properly conduct necessary experiments for the course.
“The laboratory course involves using sophisticated instruments and requires dark room for some experiments; which can not be fulfilled by online teaching,” said Professor Mim Nakarmi, the professor of the hybrid course. “We put experimental set ups very far apart, and only one student works with one set-up,” said Nakarmi.
They are currently utilizing two laboratory rooms in the building to stay within proper health and safety guidelines. Nakarmi emphasized that students maintain more than six feet away from each other, and there are six feet markers on the floor so that even the professor can social distance when interacting with students.
Before the entire world was practically shut down due to the pandemic and remote learning became highly favored in this current COVID-19 state, the physics department planned on the course being completely in-person, as did many departments.
Numerous undergrads with a major in physics needed this course to fulfill their requirements and graduate. According to Nakarmi, the department had two options: “Run it as hybrid or cancel the course.” Cancelling the course would have been a major setback for students that were betting on taking the course this fall to graduate.
“College administrators have been very supportive to conduct the hybrid class securely. College has provided required PPEs for students,” said Nakarmi. Nakarmi has not received any complaints from the students but hopes the half that did get to conduct their labs on campus thus far are pleased with how the course is being conducted.