As the spotlight on science careers grows brighter, ensuring students are prepared for the journey ahead becomes crucial. Fortunately, many students thrive when engaging in hands-on experiments and activities. Yet, a widespread lack of funding for necessary science equipment is holding a lot of classrooms back.
Virtual science labs are a game-changer. They’re leveling the educational playing field by granting all students access to experiments and equipment in a cost-effective, controlled environment.
In these labs, students can manipulate variables without the chaos of creating a mess, while simultaneously maintaining health and safety standards. Keep reading for some of our favorite virtual science lab ideas.
Ideas for every branch of science
Examining the structures and processes of the physical and natural world through astute observation is vital for today’s learners. Students need chances to navigate complex scenarios and make unbiased observations, uncovering truths about our world.
Virtual science labs are more than just videos of someone conducting experiments. They’re interactive and captivating, allowing students to manipulate variables and conduct experiments in controlled settings.
These virtual labs embrace all areas of science, encompassing physics, chemistry, biology, and earth science, among others. Let’s explore specific examples of virtual labs that teachers can use to enrich their science curriculum.
In the realm of physics, educators can immerse students in experiential learning through virtual labs.
With PhET’s Circuit Construction Kit: DC – Virtual Lab, students can explore basic electricity relationships by constructing series and parallel circuits with batteries, resistors, light bulbs, and switches.
These hands-on experiments teach students more about everyday objects such as conductors or insulators. By applying theoretical knowledge in a practical setting, students enhance their comprehension of circuit components in a safe and constructive environment.
Virtual labs also play a significant role in reinforcing students’ understanding of concepts such as forces and motion. Labs such as PhET’s Gravity Force Lab: Basics let students experiment with the relationship between distance traveled, time, mass, and friction. With an interactive and engaging platform, students can visualize and experiment with these fundamental concepts.
Educators have a wealth of virtual lab resources at their disposal, such as PhET’s Building an Atom simulation. It’s designed to walk students through the process of constructing an atom. Students can draw a model of an atom as well as predict how the number of protons, neutrons, or electrons can change the element itself.
Introducing concepts like the pH scale and meter calibration is made engaging and accessible through BrainPOP’s pH Scale and Meter Calibration free virtual lab. This interactive platform provides hands-on experience for understanding acidity, pH measurement, and fundamental laboratory techniques.
Allowing students to experiment within this virtual environment deepens their understanding of these concepts while igniting a greater passion and interest in the sciences.
Students can embark on a journey of exploration through Labster’s virtual simulations, diving into the complexities of plate tectonics through active, inquiry-based learning.
By studying real-world landforms created by different tectonic plate boundaries, students can determine if a plate boundary is convergent, divergent, or transform.
Using other modeling tools like the Tectonic Explorer by GEODE ensures students have a better understanding of Earth’s surface and all its moving components. Students can navigate, analyze real-time data, and engage with experts, cultivating a more tangible and comprehensive understanding of plate tectonics.
Many platforms play a pivotal role in enhancing students’ understanding of Earth’s climate. Labster’s virtual simulation Human Impact on Climate Change provides interactive experiences that educate students about climate change, the carbon cycle, and the impact of human emissions on the environment.
Additionally, resources like The Polar Lab, developed by NOVA, help students understand Earth’s climate history and the significance of the poles in climate change. Collectively, these virtual simulations and labs are essential to enriching students’ understanding of scientific concepts.
Teachers can consider virtual labs such as LABSci’s Population Dynamics: Predator/Prey and the National Ocean Service’s Activity II: Setting up a Predator-Prey Model. These dynamic simulations provide students with essential knowledge of the interactions between predator and prey populations.
Students can investigate how birth rates and initial population sizes influence ecosystem changes. The immersive experience enhances students’ understanding of ecological principles, including the interdependence of species within an ecosystem.
Numerous platforms offer virtual labs that assist students in understanding the dynamics of photosynthesis. For instance, Dynamics of Photosynthesis, a simulation created by Mr. Jon Darkow, allows students to experiment with some of the main factors affecting photosynthesis.
Students can alter the amount of light intensity and wavelength of different plants, observing how these changes affect growth.
Additionally, Labster’s interactive teaching labs offer immersive virtual simulations focused on food science and nutrition. Designed to captivate students in scientific exploration, these labs serve as highly effective tools for both virtual and in-person classes. They allow students to experience and comprehend all aspects of the food they consume.
Top virtual lab sites
University of Colorado Boulder
Interactive simulations provided free through PhET, the University of Colorado Boulder’s virtual lab site, allow teachers to search subject-specific labs such as physics, chemistry, math, Earth science, and biology that best fit their curriculum.
Each virtual simulation includes sample learning goals, teaching resources, and teacher-submitted activities. Many offer inclusive features such as alternative inputs, interactive descriptions, voicing, and pan and zoom tools. These research-based simulations are an effective option for teachers to incorporate in lectures, class activities, labs, and even homework.
ChemCollective Virtual Labs
ChemCollective Virtual Labs are designed to improve chemistry education through scenario-based learning activities in a highly interactive and engaging environment. The platform allows students to choose from a wide array of standard reagents (aqueous) and manipulate them to mimic the actions in an actual laboratory setting.
PBS: Nova Labs
NOVA Labs is a free digital platform providing students with opportunities to interact with core science concepts in a highly engaging environment. Students are challenged to participate in simulated hands-on activities, generating their own questions and designing solutions to current real-world problems.
For students immersed in the study of chemical reactions and reactors, the Reactor Lab is a welcome resource. Students interact with the scenarios by clicking the React button, then Empty, Fill, and React buttons in a safe environment. This virtual lab enables students to seamlessly conduct experiments and analyze data with ease.
Line Rider is a physics game where students draw tracks for a sledder to ride. Easy and fun to use, it challenges the player to create a track smooth enough to keep the sledder on their sled. Simply draw the track with the pen, play the “movie” of the sledder using the track, and analyze the performance.
Promethean: Your most reliable lab partner
Promethean’s ActivPanel, particularly the ActivPanel 9 Premium with ActivSync, offers an array of tools and features invaluable for classrooms, especially during virtual lab sessions.
With its impressive large 4K resolution display, the ActivPanel 9 ensures experiments are visible from anywhere in the classroom or during remote learning. Educators can easily communicate with students offering real-time feedback using Promethean’s Screen Share capability, which is especially useful when students conduct independent virtual experiments.
All these tools, along with the ability to annotate any image, video, or simulation, add versatility, making Promethean your most reliable lab partner.