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Enrichment of high school science opportunity by utilization of a program for student laboratory assistants

Vorhees, Victor J.
Scope of Study: Two problems facing the secondary science teacher are finding time to prepare materials and apparatus for laboratory work and arranging time for students with high level ability to work on projects in which they have an interest. The purpose of this study was to discover a method of solving or reducing both these problems at once. The suggested methods of attack found in education textbooks, source books, and periodicals of the profession were found to be applicable mainly to the schools with larger enrollments and more adequate budgets that many of the schools of the Midwest. It is impossible in those schools to hire adult laboratory assistants, and equally impossible to provide special laboratories and teachers for accelerated programs for gifted students. By utilizing student laboratory assistants and requiring that they do some independent work, a number of benefits can accrue to faculty, students, and community. Indeed, the nation could well benefit from widespread exposure of more students to the methods and opportunities of science and scientists. Some of the problems which the paper attempts to answer are: (1) How, by whom, and upon what criteria should participants in the program be selected? (2) Shall the participants be given pay, credit, both, or neither? (3) What shall be the responsibilities of lab assistants? (4) What shall be required in the way of project work and research? (5) What are some techniques which may be utilized to assure success of the program? (6) What are some benefits of the program?
Findings and Conclusions: No doubt many schools are employing student laboratory assistants, but have not made public the results. Little material was found in print concerning this problem. What material was found, and what information could be obtained through personal inquiry has convinced the writer that a program for enrichment by use of student laboratory assistants is practical and feasible, and, can produce very definite and very desirable results.