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December 2, 2009

For the past 4 years, the East Bay Educational Collaborative, a regional Educational Service Agency specializing in nurturing world class educational practice, has  partnered with the Lab-Aids company in developing and implementing an innovative and equity-bringing Chemistry program, A Natural Approach to Chemistry.

Throughout this time the high school teachers who have participated and who now implement the program in their classrooms are enthusiastic about its importance to students, especially its ability to gain their attention and interest.  One of our specialists – a retired teacher with 30 years of experience teaching Chemistry -- provides teacher training (Professional Development) in partnership with Lab-Aids.  However, she was not, initially, an enthusiast.  But at a dinner I attended at the NSTA Conference in Boston I sat next to her I asked her what caused the change she responded, “The students convinced me.  They get it.  They now understand that Chemistry is all around them, and in them. And want to learn more.”

Lab-Aids has proven to be a valuable and skilled partner in this venture – and has produced a high school chemistry program we feel has no equal.  A Natural Approach to Chemistry has eliminated the need for the traditional and hugely expensive computer lab, it successfully integrates text based chemistry content and concepts with appropriate labs and with a new, ingenious micro-scale computer interactive analytical device (the LabMaster).  Lab-Aids has developed professional development opportunities that work for teachers.  A Natural Approach to Chemistry is an integral and significant component of Rhode Island’s STEM initiative called Physics First Rhode Island, which after 3 years has grown to include 26% of the high school students in the state.

A Natural Approach to Chemistry is a pioneering program -- built as it is around the chemistry within the environment and the human body.  The professional development built around it is interesting and exciting for even the most seasoned teachers.  My experience is that they can now bring difficult chemistry concepts and content to life with their students in ways not possible with traditional texts. 

Jerry Kowalczyk
Former Executive Director