Anyone walking past Kim Collura's Chemistry Lab might wonder what Eric Rempe, Ceramics teacher, is doing teaching her class. Eric and Kim have been collaborating on an interdisciplinary unit that displays the real-world use of Chemistry in the creation of glazes with desired qualities. Students in Mr. Rempe's Advanced Ceramics classes have already completed a glaze lab in their classes and developed glazes that they are using to finish ceramic pieces. According to the PDS Upper School Curriculum Guide, "Applied Chemistry is an introductory course emphasizing the practical role chemistry plays in modern society and daily life. It provides an introduction to the fundamental principles of chemistry and covers traditional chemistry topics but within the context of societal issues and real-world scenarios. The laboratory-based course focuses on generating data from investigations, analyzing that data, and then applying a knowledge of chemistry to solve problems that arise in everyday life."
Over the course of five periods of instruction and collaboration, students in the Applied Chemistry class learn about the traits of the elements of the periodic table and how they interact and operate within glazes. Chemistry students have the opportunity to collaborate with Advanced Ceramics peers in making a slab built bowl to finish with the glaze they mixed. Final glazes that work as intended and are desirable can then be mixed in larger quantities to be applied to bowls. In the words of Eric Rempe, "I remember being a student in high school and wondering about why certain things were important to learn. I was always more invested when the teachers communicated a real world application for the content that we were covering. The objective of this assignment was just that. I wanted the Applied Chemistry students to see how their course content was being used right here at PDS and in the larger world."