Make Virtual Science Labs Your Jam

When you think about doing science labs with your online class do you: 

a. Love the challenge and create something totally new

b. Want to curl up in the fetal position and pretend like it’s not your reality

c. Spend way too much time trying to figure out how to turn your photosynthesis lab into a kitchen science deal that your students can do at home

d. Just forget the labs and hope they won’t fail their college science classes for lack of lab skills

Was your answer all of the above?  After two years of doing science in an online program, I’ve got some gold nuggets of wisdom to share that will transform your virtual labs and leave your students feeling ready for college.

Wisdom nugget #1: Don’t reinvent the wheel

When I needed to convert my photosynthesis lab to virtual, my first thought was to record a demo of the lab at home for my students. Instead of picking up materials from the school and making a cringy video, I decided to look on youtube to see if another teacher had already made one.  I found a video with the EXACT lab I was planning to do and that was done better than I could have done it!  I also found a great video to demo waves with slinkies and created a lab for my students that mimicked the lab I would have done in class. 

Wisdom nugget #2: Keep the lab vibes in your class

One of the most meaningful parts of science labs is the group work.  In an online format it can be trickier, but definitely not impossible!  One of my favorite ways to cultivate a group experience in virtual labs is having students leave feedback on each other’s work.  I do this as comments in google slides, Jamboards, and collaborative google docs.  

Wisdom nugget #3: Let them try at home when they can

Is an egg drop lab better with meter sticks, precision, and a uniform set of materials?  Yes!  But my students had a blast doing an egg drop from home and posting their videos on flipgrid.  We also did a Rube Goldberg as part of our potential and kinetic energy unit.  It was so fun to see what the students came up with on their own at home!

I hope this inspires you to get into the groove of virtual labs!  May your teacher heart be full and happy,

Sarah

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