Lab Work: The Key to Engagement and Boosting Scores - Written by: Sue Biggs, Advanced Placement Summer Institute Instructor

Posted by Fitchburg State University on May 30, 2023 at 11:48 AM

Using Lab work to boost both engagement and your students’ AP Chemistry Scores. Many AP chemistry teachers feel as if they do not have time to do lab work. I think that this feeling is caused by a number of different factors. Perhaps you might think that you can deliver the material better with lecture or POGILS or worksheets. Perhaps you think your class periods are too short and you don’t have any double periods. Perhaps you feel overworked and that you don’t have time to set labs up. Perhaps you don’t have the time or inclination to collect lab notebooks or grade long lab reports. Perhaps you have done some of the AP of chemical supply company lab protocols and found those procedures to be a time drain taking far too long. Perhaps you don’t know what AP means by “inquiry” and you just don’t know where to begin. Perhaps you don’t have enough equipment, probeware, or supplies. Perhaps you do not have any labs that “work” or help to really illustrate the concepts you are trying to teach.

If any one or more of these reasons rings true, then my summer institute is for you. My week at Fitchburg State University is not your run-of-the mill chemistry APSI where we spend loads of time with the CED or learning to use AP classroom. Certainly those topics are covered, but MUCH more time is spent actually doing lab work to understand set-up, protocols, and most importantly pre-lab questions, data processing, and post-lab questions that can help improve your students’ AP exam scores. My philosophy is that lab work can be used for instruction rather than assessment. I will try to provide answers and ideas for all of the problems previously outlined, and work with you to move past or eliminate those issues. All of my materials are provided to you in digital format to encourage you to edit and revise to suit your school and your students’ needs. 

I have been teaching for 42 years, and am still in the high school classroom. I have been a reader and AP consultant for 10 years, and would love to spend time sharing my ideas with you this summer.

Susan Biggs has been teaching chemistry since 1981, currently teaching at Westborough High School, in Westborough MA, where she teaches AP and Honors chemistry. Susan became a reader for the first time in 2012, and has enjoyed going ever since. Since 2013, Susan has been teaching both one and two day workshops for the College Board, and various summer institutes. Currently Susan is the chemistry consultant for Mass Insight. Susan was awarded the 2009 Grinspoon Excellence in Teaching Award, and in 2012 she and was selected as the Mass Math Science Initiative Science Teacher of the Year and the Connecticut Valley Section of ACS High School Teacher of the Year. Susan holds a B.A. in Chemistry from the College of the Holy Cross, and a Masters in Chemistry from the University of Saint Josephs. 


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Topics: Graduate Programs, Advanced Placement Summer Institutes