‘Less Exciting and Less Fun’: Undergraduates Voice Frustrations with Science Lab Renovations


Ongoing renovations in Harvard’s Science Center have disrupted numerous science courses by closing off first and second floor teaching laboratories, eliciting frustration from some undergraduates.

Construction to the teaching labs began in December 2023 — as part of a larger update to the Science Center — and are anticipated to continue until 2025. The new facilities will “modernize the labs in terms of lab equipment and building infrastructure, and also update their design and layout to reflect modern day pedagogy,” according to a March statement to The Crimson from Harvard spokesperson Holly J. Jensen.

“The labs are being renovated in two phase process, allowing us to minimize the number of lab classes that need to be moved during the renovation process,” Jensen wrote.

Despite those efforts, multiple courses have still been disrupted — and students said they have felt the strain.


Physical Sciences 11: Foundations and Frontiers of Modern Chemistry: A Molecular and Global Perspective — a large introductory Chemistry course — has been forced to completely shift its lab format.

Whereas previous iterations of the course mandated students to attend one two-and-a-half-hour lab section once per week, lab closures have forced the sections to be divided in two: a wet lab and a dry lab.

Some students voiced frustrations with the new lab structure.

Aryenne Y. Rodrigo ’27, a student in PS 11, said “they changed a lot” to the course this year.

“They switched a lot of the labs,” she said. “It kind of messed up with my schedule as well.”

“I think it’s a different experience from all the previous classes that was shared,” Rodrigo added.

Caris J. Eaton ’27, who is also a student in PS 11, said “around half of our labs were either canceled or done online.”

“A lot of the really more fun or interesting labs they were planning to do, we weren’t able to do,” Eaton said. “That kind of affected everyone’s attitudes towards lab — made it a little less exciting and less fun, which is unfortunate.”

Chemistry 27: Organic Chemistry of Life was also impacted by the lab renovations.

Kaitlyn S. Garcia ’25, a student in Chem 27, said some of the lab components have been shifted to a “dry” format, in which students simulate what would have been hands-on wet lab experiences.

“They’ll walk us through it step by step to make sure we’ve seen the material and been exposed to it and we understand what the process would have looked like in person,” Garcia said.

Despite the unconventional changes to science labs in response to Science Center renovations, some students said the new format of the lab provides the same benefits.

Sandhya Kumar ’26, a student in Chem 27 and a Crimson Editorial editor, wrote in an emailed statement to The Crimson that the dry labs “were just as informative as the wet lab.”

Eaton said “it’s a pretty decent format.”

“I think it definitely lets you have more lab interaction to see more things happening and kind of bridge some of the gaps in dry lab,” Eaton said.

“I think I still have a full grasp of the concepts thanks to the lab,” Rodrigo said. “I appreciate it even more because there’s more application rather than just concept.”

According to Jensen, Harvard’s project team “will solicit feedback from Science Center users on an ongoing basis” in order to inform the “design and construction process.”

Some students have also praised teaching staff efforts to make the best of a limited situation.

Kumar wrote, “the course staff has worked hard for it to feel as normal as possible, and have introduced more times and days for lab to take place!”

Still, Garcia said, “I just really hope going forward, they’re able to minimize the construction.”

“I think for a lot of STEM classes, the burden is on faculty and on students to make quick changes in their courses that are kind of unexpected,” she said.

—Staff writer Danielle J. Im can be reached at

—Staff writer Jackson C. Sennott can be reached at