Science and Social Distancing: 5 Tips to Teach Chemistry to At-Home Students


Article Summary

  • The COVID-19 pandemic poses numerous challenges for teachers and students.
  • These challenges can be overcome by adopting digital technologies.
  • Furthermore, teachers can create a thriving online classroom using online and at-home resources.
  • Teachers need to adapt to the needs of the student and communicate with them outside the digital classroom.
  • Teaching chemistry in an engaging way requires teachers to replicate the physical classroom and adopt online teaching and grading methods to ensure the student’s progress at home.


The novel Coronavirus pandemic has closed many classrooms around the world, but that doesn’t mean that education and learning have to stop. In fact, many schools and teachers are rapidly adopting digital technologies and teaching processes that are geared towards online schooling, in an attempt to maintain the necessary level of productivity and progress that students need to keep pace with the curriculum. After all, a global pandemic shouldn’t stand in the way of a student getting their degree.

Combining a theoretical approach with problem-based learning when it comes to online education can seem like a cumbersome challenge, however, it’s important to note that digital technologies along with some common lab tools and utilities as well as engaging resources can help you maintain a thriving student collective. Let’s take a look at the five key tips that will allow you to teach the best chemistry to your at-home students.

Creating a thriving online classroom

For a teacher who is used to communicating knowledge in a live classroom where you can interact with your students and truly feel the energy of the space teeming with curiosity, with minds that are ready and willing to learn about the world around them, it can be difficult to suddenly find yourself staring into a computer camera. You might feel detached and out of sync with your students, and you might never get that feeling that they are truly listening to you.

This shouldn’t worry you, though, because there are some efficient and effective ways to overcome this challenge. Firstly, understand any technical constraints that might be in play. Make sure that you have a stellar internet connection, and that your students have the necessary tech at their disposal. Next, remember to talk slowly and clearly, and make regular pauses for any questions and to make sure that everyone heard you. Structure your lesson to allow for student engagement and interaction, and most importantly, emphasize practical demonstrations.

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Focus on practical demonstrations

As a chemistry teacher, you need to know how to engage your students. Sure, your pupils are probably already eager to soak in all of that knowledge, but keep in mind that theory alone can become quite dull after a while. This is why you need to focus on practical science demonstrations whenever you can, to make the class more engaging, rewarding, and inspirational.

Of course, this can be a problem now that your students are stuck at home, and you can’t ask them to demonstrate a reaction at home by themselves because that’s a hazard. So, what can you do? For one, if you alone have access to the school’s lab, you can conduct your online classes from there – you will have all the supplies you need. If not, you can always hop over to your local superstore and grab some basic ingredients for a fun practical demonstration that you can do at home.

Provide engaging supplementary resources

No matter if you’re conducting online classes once, twice, or thrice per week, there is no denying that your students will have plenty of downtime between sessions. One of your goals should be to fill that time with productive chemistry-related activities that will inspire them to repeat what they’ve learned and make that knowledge stick.

You can do this by giving them homework, yes, but also by providing them with engaging and versatile chemistry practice problems that will challenge them and help them retain what they’ve learned through videos and text solutions. This will make online learning that much more rewarding, but most importantly, it will help them stay inspired and motivated until they get back into the classroom.

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Quizzing your students remotely

Of course, you can’t teach science effectively without regularly assessing the students’ level of progress and knowledge retention, which is why you have to master the art of quizzing your students remotely. Start by prepping the quiz using one of many online tools at your disposal, or prepare for a quick oral exam where you will pose quick questions to your students before class.

Make sure to keep it light and entertaining, and use the quiz to identify pain points and knowledge gaps so that you can work with the individual to catch up quickly with the rest of the class – don’t use the quiz as a chance to reprimand the students if you want to maintain a productive and positive online classroom.

Make yourself available via messenger and chat

And finally, keep in mind that now that your students are spending most of their time at home, they have a higher need to interact with their teachers when it comes to solving problems by themselves, asking for guidance and help, or when they need you to recommend additional resources. At-home students want more engagement, so be sure to make yourself readily available through messaging apps, email, or phone in order to keep them motivated, inspired, and engaged as long as the social distancing rules are in effect.

Wrapping up

Chemistry might be engaging and fun in a lab, but at home, it can be difficult for students to stay focused. Be sure to use these tips in order to create a thriving online classroom and inspire your students to achieve more while honoring the social distancing rules and regulations.

Claire is a personal and professional development expert who believes that a positive attitude is one of the keys to success. She enjoys life to the fullest in the healthiest way possible and loves to share her insights into the lifestyle, parenting, education, and entrepreneurship. Feel free to reach her on Facebook (@clairenadams) and Twitter (@adamsnclaire).

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