Don’t Have Lab Access? Here’s How To Make the Most of Online Science Experiments

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Brought to you by the Amgen Foundation

LabXchange is a free online science education platform sponsored by the Amgen Foundation and developed at Harvard. The Amgen Foundation seeks to innovate excellence in science education through programs like LabXchange.

When the pandemic hit, teachers were abruptly and unceremoniously tasked with teaching their students in hybrid and online classrooms. As a middle school math/science teacher, converting my science curriculum into online learning proved to be challenging … How do I recreate a physical lab environment when my students are tiny little boxes on my screen? Luckily for me (and you!), online science experiments are available and easy to use. Even if you’re back in a classroom with access to a full laboratory, online science experiments are still useful and have a wealth of benefits. Here’s how to make the most of them!

1. Flip your classroom!

Flipped classrooms provide the opportunity for students to learn content at home at their own speed and practice that content when back in the classroom. In order for a flipped classroom to be successful, students must be able to easily access content at home. LabXchange provides a multitude of simulations (like Transforming Bacterial Cells) and videos (like Secretory Pathway) for exactly this purpose.

2. Use question sets to assess

Interactives are engaging, simulations have great real-world application, and thinking through lab-specific questions helps students master content. After students engage in an interactive such as How to Make a Solution, have them test their knowledge with a question set. Question sets provide real-time data for both students and teachers and serve as a great formative assessment.

3. Allow guest teachers to use interactives

We all need to be out of the classroom at some time or another, but this year might be the most heavily we’ve relied on guest teachers. Writing sub plans often takes a ton of time and energy (both of which are in short supply), but LabXchange has got your science class covered. Interactives are “scrollable,” self-paced, and easy to implement. Students can investigate topics such as Immune Response to Immunization and Using the Keystone Experiment to Understand the Scientific Method, and all you need to do is provide them the link—go rest easy now, teacher friends.

4. Take a deeper dive with gamification

Do you have students who finish tasks incredibly fast and ask, “Now what do I do?”—Yeah, me too. Here’s an enrichment idea: have students select a LabXChange topic such as macromolecules, and invite them to create a content-centered game using a tool like Blooket. This challenges students to synthesize what they’ve learned. Go a step further and have the student launch the game and have the whole class play.

5. Provide access to complex labs with simulations

Do you have enough micropipettes for each student to practice dispensing different volumes of liquid? Me neither (I don’t even think we have one). LabXchange’s simulations provide students with virtual practice of techniques like the Western blot. They can also use the experimental design simulation to practice thinking like a scientist. Thanks to these resources, our students are exposed to high-level scientific procedures and techniques.

6. Short on time? Use Pathways to create your own learning narrative

With the Pathways feature, teachers can “combine and remix assets into short learning experiences.” Basically, you can curate your own curriculum using the amazingly thorough content from LabXchange and the over 100 other content sources in their library. Check out this pre-built pathway on the Coronavirus, and use it as inspiration to create your own. Or, use the cloning feature to make a copy that you can tweak for your class.

7. Use videos for students in quarantine

It now seems to be the norm to have multiple students each week on Independent Study due to potential COVID exposure. Creating lessons and content for students in order to keep them up-to-date while out of the classroom is time consuming and tricky. LabXchange’s video library provides how-to videos, animations to demonstrate a process, and more to keep your students engaged when they’re out of your classroom.

8. Find fresh ideas online

If you’re like me, sometimes you get stuck in your own way of doing things. Maybe you are feeling like switching things up a bit but don’t know where to start. Check out the the LabXchange blog  and browse through topics such as Equity and Educators and learn something new today to bring to your classroom tomorrow.

LabXchange “gives teachers and learners the power to create, experiment, share, and solve” by providing online science experiments and labs. Even as teachers and students are returning to the physical classroom, LabXchange stands out as an amazing resource!

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