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The Silent Science Lab
Written by Gaeun Lee | Published. 2020.12.21 18:29 | Count : 1524
[An empty entrance hall of the American School of Milan. Photo courtesy of Gaeun Lee]

Despite the lockdown, seniors at IB(International Baccalaureate) schools must do their science IAs(Internal Assessment). Science IAs involve conducting an experiment that reflects the idea that we learned from the past year. Normally, students could visit their school’s science lab any time, as long as their teacher is present. This year, however, with strict regulations against COVID-19, it was not easy. In my school, my biology teacher divided the class into groups 1 and 2. Students in group 1 started their experiments first while those in group 2 had regular lessons. After a few weeks, the groups’ roles changed, and group 2 started their experiments. But this did not mean that all students in group 1 finished their experiments on time; I was one of those students in group 1 who could not finish my experiment. Thus, the vast majority of students, both in group 1 and 2, were not able to finish their experiment before the lockdown on November 6th.

Along with biology, there are other science subjects such as chemistry that require experiments as well. Ideally, the plan was that the biology students would do their experiments first, followed by the chemistry students in November. However, Lombardy went into red zone lockdown again on November 6th. 

At this point, everyone in Italy expected to have another lockdown after schools opened in September. As expected, the daily cases of COVID-19 started to skyrocket again, resulting in the lockdown. Our school, the American school of Milan, prepared for this lockdown. They issued authorized permission slips which allowed students to come to school for their science experiments.

During the quarantine, I went to school for my science experiment at 14:30. As shown in the photo above, the hallways were empty. Normally, this would have been the time when students would go to their next class, so the school becomes extremely noisy. Once I went to school a day before the regional lockdown where most of the seniors came to school to do their experiments. With everyone, the school was generally vibrant. But on Tuesday, the school was in total silence.

I went to my biology class, where my biology teacher was also present. Under his supervision, I was able to work on my biology experiments.

[Experiments in a science lab. Photo courtesy of Gaeun Lee]

Ever since the lockdown, I was stuck at my home and did not go outside frequently. So obviously, I did not wear masks for a while. For my experiment, I had to run around the lab to collect my data with my mask on, which made me utterly exhausted. Doing an experiment while wearing a mask for nearly 2 hours made me feel dizzy. Moreover, I needed to sanitize everything that I touched, even the desk or chair where I had placed my experiment materials. I felt like the work that I had to do doubled with the pandemic. I believe that I would have finished my science IA by this time without COVID-19, for sure. Yet, I enjoyed doing my experiment and successfully collected all data required.

On my way back home, the school was still in silence. The lights were turned off in the cafeteria and the gym. I could only hear my own footsteps in the hallway. As I walked out of the empty entrance hall, I felt a tinge of loneliness: a sense that I never felt while I was in school. If there was no COVID-19, perhaps I would not have felt it. As I walked out of the school, I wished that this depressing period would end as soon as possible.

Gaeun Lee
12th grade
American School of Milan

Gaeun Lee  student_reporter@dherald.com

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