THE VISION BOARD

4 Tips to Love the Lab Even When It’s At Home

6 min read

Nov 02, 2021

Art by Inna Cruz

I don’t know about you, but isn’t it nostalgic to look back on the first time you ever held (and broke) a beaker? I’m sure we all had THAT moment. Final answer na! 

But for science geeks out there, all moments spent in a lab are nostalgic and unforgettable. And we get it: Lab and experiments are memorable because they’re fun! It’s a safe space to explore and geek out. No judgment allowed—just vibes! Basta don’t forget the scientific method and to take down notes, then you’d be fine. As in, don’t mind me, I’m doing hot STEM stuff level (Albert Einstein is shaking).

Meme showing the heart rate going up during titration

With Miss Rona still lurking around, most of us are still barred from being in a lab, the cornerstone of science education (not fun). But who says Miss Rona should stop us from loving the lab and making the most out of it? Gear up and let’s learn from these STEM students how they’re making the most out of the at-home lab situations.

Your workspace matters

Remember the saying, you are your workspace? Nah, just kidding, I just made that up. Nonetheless, it’s true that our workspace reflects our personality, and hence the way we work. There’s a reason why our science teachers keep our labs organized, henny! (Aside from obvious reasons, ofc.)

“You may want to set up everything in one corner,” recommends Angelo Aquino, a third-year Agriculture major at UP Los Baños. “In my bedroom, I actually made a ‘‘productive corner’,’ where I put all my things needed for acads. It really made me more focused and productive because my brain is set that ‘in this place I need to finish at least 2-3 requirements.’” 


And since we’re here, you might as well treat your corner-slash-home lab as you would your school’s! If your lab class involves handling chemicals, make sure that your workspace is safe and well-ventilated. Ideally, set up your corner in an area with a nearby sink. Practice precaution, too, by wearing safety goggles and gloves. 

Not only does confining yourself in a specific space could heighten your productivity, but it also makes your cleaning up easier!

Function over specificity 

Unless your parents are Nobel Prize Winners, it’s safe to assume that you don’t have complete science equipment at home. That’s why Mary Caress, a Chemistry junior at the University of Santo Tomas, suggests unleashing your creativity by substituting the equipment with existing household items. 

“I find tools that are available at hand. Not only it helps me save money, it also gets the job done,” Mary says. Ordering fragile lab items online is quite a hassle. Why not use a soda bottle cut in half for your experiment instead?


Budding environmentalist Nigel Tan from Ateneo de Manila University echoes Mary’s hack with sustainability in mind.

“For courses like mine (Environmental Science) and other natural science courses and subjects, oftentimes, lab activities involve different setups like a plant pot setup,” Nigel shares. “You can opt to reuse plastic bottles to use as the planting pots. It gives life onto items that were previously just going to be thrown out.”

Know yourself

Many of us understand theoretical concepts better once we’ve put them to practice in the lab. Some teachers, however, have opted for their lab classes to go digital. (Hang on, which episode of Black Mirror is this?)

Study vlogger Mar Fortuno makes the best out of this situation by using visuals to her advantage: “Chemistry lab requires you to familiarize yourself with lab techniques that you might not be able to perform without the proper equipment. In these cases, paying attention to the videos is a lot more effective than simply reading the module.”

Mar, who studies Biology at UP Diliman, also has a tip for STEM people who are taking lab classes that require a LOT of memorization: Use the tried and tested practice of active recall and spaced repetition techniques!

You may opt to use OG index cards, but as for Mar, she uses an app called “Brainscape.”

But what works for her may not be the best for you, so it’s best to know thyself! And if you’re looking for some inspo, you might as well watch her aesthetic and awe-spiring study vlogs. (More reasons to procrastinate, amirite? Oops!)

Go outside the box!

Now you have everything. Productive corner? Check. Sustainable equipment alternative? Check. Lab notes? Check. So what’s next?


For UP Manila student Mark Angelo del Rosario, it’s to see the whole wild world as a lab from which you could draw inspiration for your scientific research! “Try not to see the lab in general within the scope of a certain space,” says the Microbiology student researcher who studied microplastics in shellfish from his hometown. Mark took it seriously when Shakespeare wrote, “all the world’s a stage”; for his next paper, he’ll be analyzing hyperthermophilic microbes on Southern Luzon volcanoes!


It’s nice to think of a lab as a place with beakers and flasks lying everywhere. But it only takes a keen eye to spot scientific processes unfolding around you! After all, a lab is all about discovering and observing the wonders of science.

Your at-home lab experience could be a huge step down compared to the fun-studded times you’ve spent in an actual lab, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most out of it. Remember when your teacher said, ‘the world is your oyster’? I say, the world is your lab and you, my friend, have all it takes to make it your own. Period!

 

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