The Atlantic

The Challenge of Teaching Science in Rural America

In districts where distances are wide and budgets are tight, even the most basic chemistry lab may be out of reach.
Source: Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

When seventh-grade teachers instruct students about chemical reactions and precipitates, they supplement their instruction with labs. Baking soda and calcium chloride mix with water to create a solid and a gas, and students calculate the speed of the process and formula for the resulting chemical using equations.

But what if the teacher didn’t have the background to explain why the precipitate formed—and was, in fact, just filling in from another department? For that matter, what if the school didn’t have any lab facilities at all?

Rural schools face different problems than urban schools when it comes to improving their instruction in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Many of the issues are based in financial constraints but take on different forms than they do

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