H-SC, Prince Edward High partner in chemistry lab
This semester marks the beginning of a unique partnership between Hampden-Sydney College and Prince Edward County High School. A Prince Edward AP Chemistry class has been coming to H-SC for a six-week program of one-on-one learning in a lab setting.
Dr. Gary Lutz, PECHS chemistry teacher, was approached by Hampden-Sydney College Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Michael Wolyniak, who was looking for outreach opportunities. When Lutz’s class attended a lab with Wolyniak, they realized this could be something bigger.
At this point, Dr. Nicholas Deifel, assistant professor of chemistry with a background in Teach for America, got involved. He figured out a way to turn the freshman sequence that covers synthesis and characterization of metal ligand complexes into a shortened program for the high school students. Deifel recruited six H-SC students as teaching assistants (TAs) for the class; all except one are brothers or pledges of the AXE fraternity. Each Prince Edward student has his/her own compound and own TA.
The benefits to both Hampden-Sydney and Prince Edward are enormous. According to Lutz, the high school’s scheduling doesn’t allow for indepth lab time required for long sequences, and PECHS’s equipment is not as sophisticated as that of H-SC. Prince Edward seniors Christian Kinzer, Connor Burke and Ratib Stwodah see a hands-on experience in a college setting as helpful and fun.
“Before the program I only saw this stuff in a textbook, so it was nice to be able to do experiments,” Connor said. The program not only offers practical applications such as Ratib’s ability to perform a half turn on a titration, but it gives the seniors a unique insight into college life.
The one-on-one mentoring is the most unique part of the experience. The TAs have a chance to hone their leadership and interpersonal skills, according to H-SC student Jason Halmo. H-SC students also have a unique perspective as they experience again the labs they recently completed.