Best Practices in Urban Science Education
Mike's two cents on optimizing science classroom practices in urban settings.



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Unique to the disciplines of the natural sciences is laboratory work.  Science classes lend themselves to experimentation using hands on, real-world experience.  These experiments require that the students work together in order to perform the experiment, and interpret the data collected.

The internet is an invaluable resource for ideas on inexpensive, cultural, uncomplicated, and even impromptu lab exercises.  Believe it or not, youtube has enormous potential for learning, and that includes demonstrations of interesting lab experiments to students, and/or gathering ideas on experiments that you might try with your students.

There are many inexpensive experiments that demonstrate very important concepts.  These protocols could prove very beneficial in urban settings that do not have sufficient funds for all the desired equipment.

Because the purpose of our website is to provide useful practices for urban teachers, I will provide you with a few brief examples of lab experiments that can be utilized to demonstrate central concepts from each biology, chemistry, and physics as examples to the kind of lessons that may prove very effective in an urban setting.

Biology lab: Probability and its Relationship to Genetic Processes

The instructor can preface this lab with a discussion of the various combinations of physical traits among the students in the diverse racial and ethnic class.

The lab itself only requires a quarter for each of two lab partners, and demonstrates the probability rule of sum as it applies to several genetic processes, including the law of independent assortment, and the probabilities of a genetic outcome in a cross.  You may find the lab here.

 Chemistry Lab: Miscibility

The instructor can begin the procedure by asking the students about various kinds of liquid ingredients that their family or culture uses in cooking, or even asking them to bring some liquids into class for use in the experiment.  The instructor can then ask the students to mix various combinations of any two of the liquids (cream, oil, water, juice, vinegar, etc.) to find out which one's mix.  The lab can conclude with a discussion of polarity, and why the substances behave in the way they did.

Physics Lab: Reaction Time

This protocol can be prefaced with a discussion of the importance of reaction time in the students favorite sports players, karate fighters, race car drivers, and any other cultural interests with which the students identify.  

The experiment only requires one meter stick between two lab partners, and the procedure can be found here.  



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