STEM BEST Chemistry Lab Makeover

New chemistry lab at West Delaware High School
New chemistry lab at West Delaware High School–Picture courtesy of Danielle Krogmann

Work-based learning got personal for a West Delaware High School chemistry student. In 2017-2018 the high school offered a new elective, DelCo BEST. This class connects students with local businesses to undertake real-world, work-based projects and create authentic learning opportunities.

The school itself can present projects and pitch problems which have been identified. One such project was the school’s chemistry lab. The lab had grown dated and potentially unsafe, rendering it in urgent need of an upgrade. After struggling to find a good design themselves, forward thinking administrators decided to tap into one of their greatest assets, their students.

The project was pitched to the DelCo BEST class and student Karley VanTheemsche became the lead in this close-to-home undertaking. VanTheemsche designed the new lab working closely with the Wisconsin Bench Company, Superintendent Kristen Rickey, the architect in charge of this project and multiple teachers in the school. 

It highlights up-to-date technology including smartboards, TV’s and iPads. Students can even connect their cell phones to the TV and show the whole class a successful experiment. The design incorporates new desks that can move into pods for easy collaboration. One of the most important aspects is the addition of the new fume hood to ventilate the lab of any residual experimental fumes.

Not only does this school benefit from a wonderful new design and chemistry lab, the student leadership in directing this project has enticed others to take part in DelCo BEST. One year later, students cite the “Chem Lab” as an inspiration for signing up for DelCo BEST. They, too, want an opportunity to leave their mark and legacy at their school. More information about the STEM BEST ® programs of the Governors STEM Advisory Council may be accessed here.

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