A new larger chemistry lab at Oceana High School replaces a classroom that was not equipped for the purpose and teachers say it’s been a welcome change.

Chemistry Lab at Oceana High School

Inside the new Chemistry Lab at Oceana High School in Pacifica. 5Adam Pardee / Tribune

The modern lab, open since Labor Day, has work stations for experiments, sinks, eye washes, tables and chairs. Next door is a supply room updated with all the necessary washing stations, a dishwasher and updated cabinets to store chemistry and physics experiments.

Principal April Holland said they still need to put in new tables and a new projector. The architect of the project worked with chemistry teacher Laura Hodder to meet her specifications for the classroom. The students are even wearing lab coats.

“It’s fantastic. It gives us all these opportunities to do these experiments. We have used so much of it,” Hodder said. “It makes them feel like professional scientists. I always have something more for them to do.”

Holland said Hodder teaches three regular chemistry classes and two advanced placement classes.

“She did a great job in a regular classroom. She’s been working hard to see all the equipment comes here,” Holland said. “She has grown the program.”

Inside the new Chemistry Lab

Inside the new Chemistry Lab at Oceana High School in Pacifica. Adam Pardee / Tribune

Even under the COVID-19 learning at home restrictions last year, Hodder was still conducting lab experiments with the students. She was using things that could be found at home, Holland said.

Hodder taught a chemistry class for juniors and seniors last week. One day she was running three labs she called Make a Pigment, Vacuum Pump and Binder Paint.

Goggles for students

Stacks of goggles for students inside their new Chemistry Lab at Oceana High School in Pacifica. Adam Pardee / Tribune

Tyler Tong was part of the Make a Pigment group, which was making colored pigment to put on a drawing. “It’s nice to be back in person and do hands-on stuff,” he said.

Saaleh Shaikh said this was his favorite class with his favorite teacher. “We get to learn stuff like reactions that are bubbling,” he said.

“I like this class. It is always interesting,” said Andrew Jenkins-Cruz.

A past experiment conducted by the class involved figuring out what liquid was in a vial based on its polarity, said Holland.

Some students were using a Chromebook with lab partners to study the ingredients in food.

“This class is enjoyable. I learn a lot of lab stuff. It’s fun,” said Jalen Arceo, one of the Chromebook group.

New Chemistry Lab

Inside the new Chemistry Lab at Oceana High School in Pacifica. Adam Pardee / Tribune


Jane Northrop has covered Pacifica for the Pacifica Tribune since 1996. She has won first place John Swett Awards from the California Teachers Association for her coverage of education.

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