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UCLA to offer chemistry lab classes during the weekend

By Kenneth Surajat

Oct. 31, 2013 1:33 a.m.

The original version of this article contained an error and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for additional information.

The UCLA Chemistry and Biochemistry Department will begin offering some beginning laboratory classes on the weekend next quarter in response to growing student demand.

The department will offer Saturday classes for the Chemistry 14 lab series – CHEM 14BL and CHEM 14CL – as part of a pilot program to see if added times will alleviate the congestion caused by increased student enrollment, said Neil Garg, vice chair of the department.

The number of life sciences students enrolled in UCLA has been increasing by at least 200 over the past two years, according to the UCLA Office of Analysis and Information Management’s website. The increase has led to heightened competition for students to get into prerequisite classes such as the beginning chemistry lab series, Garg said.

Money to fund the additional classes will come from the University Academic Initiative Fund, which provides funding for projects that focus on increasing the efficiency of classes and the curriculum, Garg said.

The new weekend lab classes will be held in Young Hall, according to the schedule of classes posted on the UCLA Registrar’s Office website. Both classes are scheduled to be offered at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Normal weekday laboratory classes will be unaffected, Garg said.


The Chemistry 14 series classes were designed for life sciences students, according to the department’s website.Depending on the life sciences field students want to pursue, they must take one or both laboratory classes. Thus, the classes are high in demand.

Excluding summer sessions, more than 900 students take CHEM 14BL in any given year and more than 500 students take CHEM 14CL, Garg said.

Currently, the department cannot accommodate all students because of limited space, Garg said.

“It’s becoming known that it’s difficult to get into these classes,” Garg said.
Adding additional lab sections during the week is difficult because the laboratories are also shared by other classes.

“We have a finite amount of lab space and the labs we use are pretty much used all the time,” Garg said. “We are constrained with the amount of physical space we have.”

Many students are not able to enroll in the classes until their third or fourth years, though they should be taking them in their first years or second years, Garg said.

Michael Panameno, a fourth-year psychobiology student, said he took the CHEM 14CL class during the spring quarter of his third year, which was the last quarter he had to complete the prerequisites for his major.

“The class filled up five to six hours after I enrolled into the class,” Panameno said. “A lot of majors need it so it is more difficult to enroll into.”

He added that he is in favor of the weekend classes because they will give students more flexibility.

Initial student reactions to this decision by UCLA have been mixed.

Elaine Lin, a second-year psychobiology student, said she is planning to take CHEM 14BL next quarter and will enroll in a weekend class as a last resort. She added that she is worried about the quality of the class because she suspects that most students and teaching assistants in a Saturday lab will be distracted and unwilling to be there.

Garg said no plans have been made yet to provide weekend classes for other highly demanded courses.

“We’ll see how it goes and how it helps,” Garg said.

Correction: The name of the UCLA Chemistry and Biochemistry Department was misspelled.

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Kenneth Surajat
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