The Chemistry Mobile Lab restarts!

In October 2019 we restarted the Chemistry Mobile Lab initiative, which was previously taken by Szabolcs to many rural school. Thanks to our sponsors and the participating Chemistry teachers who take the demonstrations to the schools, we are planning to present experiments in 100 smaller schools, mainly in rural areas, in the first year of the program re-launch (the 2019-20 school year). This would reach approx. 3000 students who would otherwise have little chance of seeing such presentations and learning from them. In some places, schools do not even have Chemistry teachers left.

“They expected me with great affection, the seventh and eighth graders were there. There is no chemistry teacher, the kids did not even see lab equipment before. They were a little scared at first, and then they warmed up nicely.”

“The presentation was very successful, the kids really enjoyed it, and they wish they had it another time again! This is a disadvantaged settlement, and unfortunately the 72-year-old colleague visiting the school from another place does not show any experiments. So I thought today that these children may not have seen experiments before other than these, and even that they may not see much experimentation in their further education, especially if they do not have chemistry education in their school. So I think this presentation has reached a very adequate place! Since this was my first occasion, I was really excited until my first experiment! Then I calmed down and had a great time, it was good to see the joy of the kids! Thank you so much for receiving the opportunity to do this!”

“I gave the presentation in a tiny village school, in eighth grade, one pupil was missing so there were nine kids. Because there were only a few pupils, they could make many experiments themselves. Their room did not allow for classroom experimentation, so it was a great pleasure for them that we took it to them. It was a real experience for me again!”

 “I gave the first presentation at my school. I presented it to my own students who are not disadvantaged in terms of chemistry because they have special biology orientation, with one additional chemistry class too. I was curious about their views. The preparation was very careful, thank you for that, a great thank you!! The students said that if I present these experiments at their former schools, the students there will have their mouths wide open, and even those agreed who had plenty of experiments in elementary school.”

“It is a very good initiative, the kids are literally hungry for experimentation. I involve students in some experiments, even non-explicit student-experiments. Unfortunately, many schools have a problem with the lack of specialized teachers. I arrived to a real host community. My small desk made during the break, which I made for better visibility and will take it with me for presentations, was now debuting.”

“Being a small school, the 7th and 8th grade kids (26 altogether) could watch the Mobile Lab presentation together. The school received me in the morning during school hours, I got one lesson and a break. There was no tap water in the classroom, so I carried it in a bottle with me. There was very little space available for preparing materials and tools and for the presentation. I had a really good time, and my conclusion from the kids’ activity was that they went to the next lesson with similar feelings.”

“I first presented the experiments at my own school, and the goal was to practice the experiments I had not done before during chemistry classes. For fifth, sixth, and seventh grade students, it was a three-hour ‘practice’ for myself to gain experience with new experiments. By the third hour of the afternoon, I had to specially request my colleagues to let the advanced math students come due to the level of their interest… In front of my students, I dared to “experiment”, that is, first to try the materials and descriptions of experiments I received. I did not want to make failures at external presentations later. Because of the finite amount of chemicals, I undertook to gain experience in front of my students. My students were eager to watch and experiment. The school headmaster (a chemistry teacher) also watched one of the presentations. Thinking of you, I have used and will use the chemicals and glassware I myself have available so as to help more colleagues to new tools later. The Bunsen burner is worth gold! I am grateful for the new ideas which I will use to promote the subject, as well as to promote physics.”

“The students were very enthusiastic and could be guided about the lessons and explanations of the experiments. Unfortunately, here also a travelling chemistry teacher colleague provides the classes, although the classroom is nice, well equipped, and ideal for holding chemistry classes.”

“Whichever experiment allows and if there are students applying, I call on them. They may be a bit timid at the beginning (lack of routine, having to stand in front of their peers), but they are skillful and proud that it was them who have done (a part of) the experiment and that they did it well. They are very excited about the student experiments.”

“The teacher turned to me asking me to come back to them next year, if possible. It was a great experience for all of us.”

“During the colleague’s well-structured lesson, talent development was present as well as catching up. The biggest challenge during the class is to raise and maintain the children’s attention, interest and motivation, which has been fully realized.”

“I set the duration of the session to two hours (the physics teacher didn’t go home for this reason). The secretary, a chemistry and physics colleague also attended the session. I set up four student experimenting groups, and made the smoke detector already covered. During the presentation I experienced again that I did not get (at all relevant) answers to my questions or problems. My loose, humorous style, accepting attitude was unusual, and they realized during the session that they could freely talk, ask, and have no fear.”

“They were very pleased with the presentation at the school, because they are not experimenting during chemistry classes here (the colleague teaches chemistry with agricultural engineering background). They welcomed the opportunity! They wish many supporters for the Foundation and expect to see us again next year! They also made videos and photos and will put it on the school’s website.”

“The room is not equipped for experimentation (neither gas nor water tap was available). However, the enthusiastic students were disciplined. A tenth-grader helped me in the framework of community service.”

“This mobile lab is a fantastic thing!!! Thanks for the opportunity of being a part. The children, and last but not least, the teachers, call us back with great affection and ask us to continue.”

“I used to travel and teach three classes a week in this school a few years ago because they didn’t have a chemistry teacher colleague, so I knew the local conditions. There are indeed disadvantaged students there, and there are not many job opportunities. The headmistress organized the session, 26 interested students came, but unfortunately no more could fit into the classroom. The travelling colleague who teaches chemistry from another settlement was absent due to other commitments, but two local teachers were present. Aside from the fact that I could hardly rely on subject knowledge (although I was expecting it), the session was successful, enjoyed by students and colleagues alike, and they didn’t want to go for a snack break, so I ended the session after an hour and forty minutes. By the way, I enjoyed it too. The next day, the school’s community site featured photos taken by colleagues on their own phones. I assume it’s not a problem if I take the opportunity to mention physics aspects as well.”

Teachers participating in the program will use the manual provided here (in Hungarian) for presentations. Naturally, the ideas and descriptions in the material are free to use.

We are grateful for the generous financial support from Richter Gedeon Plc., Bau-Haus Ltd., Japonica Holding Ltd. and 77 Elektronika Ltd., donations from private individuals, discounts received from Szkarabeusz Ltd. at procurement, and the help from several pharmacies. We are currently in talks with other donors. We are counting on the assistance of additional collaborating partners for the sustainability and expansion of the program and its delivery to even more regions.

Between October 2019 and March 2020, the initiative reached schools at 68 towns and villages: Karancsság, Pacsa, Kétsoprony, Endrefalva, Pécs, Ságújfalu, Bócsa, Tokod, Tát, Tázlár, Eger, Zirc, Vásárosnamény, Zalakomár, Kisláng, Leányvár, Lenti, Kisnána, Gérce, Zalaegerszeg, Nagykanizsa, Káloz, Bogád, Nagyesztergár, Salgótarján, Nagyszénás, Komló, Pusztadobos, Somogyvár, Fonyód, Veszprém, Pincehely, Kelebia, Őriszentpéter, Besenyőtelek, Keszthely, Kunágota, Csaroda, Balatonszentgyörgy, Balatonfenyves, Gyöngyösfalu, Balatonszemes, Dég, Nagyrécse, Csapi, Páhi, Jánosháza, Sóskút, Galambok, Cered, Nagysáp, Nyírmada, Bagod, Dorog, Karancskeszi, Vatta, Herceghalom, Piliscsév, Balatonlelle, Lengyeltóti, Becsehely, Szentgotthárd, Ilk, Kömpöc, Sorkifalud, Bükkösd, Szabadszentkirály and Lepsény. You can find some reports on the webpages or facebook pages of the host schools too, for example hereherehere, or here. The program has reached approximately 2000 pupils since its launch in October.

We are going to continuously report about the program, the schools covered and the experience gathered.