My laboratory meets in the evenings. Since the course is ecology-based, I like to conduct some labs outside (what better way to study the environment than to actually be in it?). Yesterday evening was one of those outside labs. But sadly, they had been forecasting rain for a couple of days, and I was worried about how to deal with it.
My lecture consists of 35 students. The students are split into two groups for lab. Half of the students meet on Mondays and half meet on Wednesdays. I like to keep the lab experience as similar as possible for each group, and the Monday lab section had nice weather for their lab. So I decided to conduct the Wednesday lab outside despite the rain. It was miserable, but the students didn’t complain too much. Most were prepared with rain boots and umbrellas.
We conducted half of the lab outside. For the remaining half of the lab, we came back inside and made up hypothetical numbers to be compared to the data that they had already collected outside. I didn’t want them to miss the opportunity that their Monday counterpart received, but I also didn’t want to torture them any more than necessary (it was also unseasonably cold outside).
I always try to have a backup lab prepared in the event of bad weather, but sometimes there is just not a suitable indoor alternative. Hopefully they learned that being an ecologist means conducting research even when mother nature is being disagreeable.