Eichinger tackles the challenges of the fall semester
David Eichinger, associate professor of science education, is excited to be teaching in Chaney-Hale Hall of Science—the new STEM teaching lab building. The 111,000 square foot building, a student-focused STEM learning space next to the Armory, Elliott Hall of Music, and Schleman Hall of Student Services, was a much needed upgrade from Wetherill Hall of Chemistry, where Eichinger has taught for many years.
Prior to the start of the 2020 fall semester, Eichinger and colleagues moved decades of materials, equipment, and files from Wetherill to Chaney-Hale. Managing the new transition was a huge task which was complicated by COVID-19. Extra protections were implemented as they moved into the new building.
Once the labs and classrooms were set up, adapting to the new teaching situation was next. Eichinger teaches a lab-based science course for elementary education majors. In a usual year, 80% of the coursework is done in person in the lab. With the introduction of additional safety measures, such as using face shields and face masks for all collaborative work and decreasing the number of students enrolled in each lab section to allow for greater social distancing, Eichinger and his teaching staff were able to safely maintain the in-person, hands-on teaching approach for all of his students.
Teaching was further complicated this semester as students who had been potentially exposed to COVID-19 rotated in and out of quarantine. With the development of online alternatives for all of the regular lab activities, the hybrid, hi-flex arrangement of Eichinger’s class allowed for much needed flexibility for those students so they could still learn all they needed to.
“The semester was a tremendous amount of work but, with the cooperation and flexibility of students and TAs, we were able to adapt to the many challenges brought on by the pandemic” said Eichinger.