Cavaliers Complete Chemistry IAs at Home


Ella Londono

Junior Ella Londono completes her titration experiment in the comfort of her home.

Isabel Donner, Staff Writer

Every year, Coral Gables Senior High students in the International Baccalaureate program work hard to complete their Internal Assessments, a crucial step in receiving credit for an IB class. However, like so many other routine aspects of school, the IA process has been very different this year. IB Chemistry students have been faced with the issue of having to complete the experimental phase of their IA at home. While this has certainly posed a challenge to students, Cavaliers have been able to take something other than data away from this adverse experience.

The difficulty of having to conduct such an important experiment outside of school has merely been exacerbated by the relative lack of guidance or assistance offered by the IB organization. The only change that has been provided this year was prohibiting students from using certain highly acidic chemicals in their experiment that were deemed too dangerous for use outside of a school laboratory.

Gables chemistry teacher Ms. Kiely has gone to great lengths to help her students in this unorthodox situation, allowing them to pick up any items that could be helpful in their experiment from her classroom after school. She has been providing students with the materials and tools needed for their experiments, which could be difficult to acquire otherwise. These materials include devices like burettes, hot plates, various chemicals and flasks.

Junior Caitlin Castillo has had to rise to the challenge of completing her IA experiment within the modest arrangements of her house. Castillo is performing a titration experiment, and has fortunately not faced too much trouble even under the novel circumstances. The experience has been slightly more difficult because she has a young sibling living with her and she has had to use fragile equipment and harmful substances.

Additionally, she slightly burned her finger with acid after not following safety guidelines because she felt so comfortable at home. Working in such a small space with less ventilation has also created obstacles for her. On the bright side, the new setting has allowed her to complete her experiment at her own pace on her own time, as opposed to only being able to do it during school hours.

“Since I had to do the experiment at home, I had a smaller space than I would at school so all the smells of the chemicals were burning my eyes and filling up my house. I had to open my doors and balcony,” junior Caitlin Castillo said.

The experiment at home has been very easy! Ms. Kiely did a good job of helping us prepare. It felt really great to do the experiment on my own and learn more about creating your own experiment.”

— junior Ella Londono

Junior Ella Londono is also doing a titration experiment in her home to learn the amount of vitamin C retained by vegetables after being cooked in various methods such as boiling and baking. Londono’s experiment went smoothly thanks to the help of Ms. Kiely. She was able to pick up her materials from school with ease. Working from her house has given her the advantage of having the food materials needed for her experiment readily available in her kitchen and more space to work in.

Not having Ms. Kiely by her side to answer any quick questions was a slight challenge for Londono. However, this experience has empowered her and shown her how independent and self-directed she can truly be.

Conducting a significant task under such unconventional circumstances would certainly post a problem for any average student. However, this year’s IB chemistry students are far from average. With the help of teacher Ms. Kiely, they tackled the problem and were able to successfully complete their experiments in true Cavalier spirit.