How the rich geek culture sustained hands-on science education at home during the pandemic
From DIY instruments and smartphone sensors for at-home experimentation to commodity augmented reality, online video material, and introductory programming.
In 2020 the Covid19 pandemic swiped across the world. Lockdown protocols entered in action to mitigate spread. One of the many aspects of our lives that got very affected was education: of course, it impacted learning very much, besides affecting the psychology of students and teachers and probably to-be-seen consequences on global and regional economies, social inequalities, and more. But the pandemic also pushed educators to embrace new technologies and think about how to adapt curricula.
In this story, I touch on one especially positive point, drawn from the experiences of chemistry and biology teachers in several high schools and universities who had during the pandemic no access to laboratories yet managed to continue providing their students with practical science sessions that, of course, they carried out at their homes. For this, educators devised activities and instrumentation that students could execute or build at home. Examples span from making monitoring how household chemicals react by using DIY instruments to augmented reality applications that simulated molecular modeling kits or even laboratory protocols in student phones and computers. Noteworthy, a large number of these experiments, DIY instruments, smartphone or computer programs, and other resources are possible thanks to the existence of a very rich Geek Culture, as I intend to convey in the story’s title.