Online Labs that Really Can Replace Hands-On Labs!
As a teaching tool, if students have adequate access to technology, these labs are great! All of the labs put students in the role of scientists, collecting data and drawing conclusions, although some are more open-ended than others. As a teacher, I appreciate the NGSS correlations and the Educator Guide that links to other NOVA resources to extend or enhance the lesson, including access to career resources and providing links to related online communities. Note that labs require Flash so will not be compatible with all devices.
How I Use It
These labs use either a game format or "making observations" to engage students while presenting content. In my online/blended classes this site takes the place of a traditional hands-on lab. It can also work in traditional classrooms where students have access to 1-1 devices, The short videos found in each segment, can be shown to a whole class, or assigned as independent work. They present "just in time" content to engage students and allow them to start or continue the game/activity. The Educator Guide is well laid out and complete. It takes students through an introduction to the content and then encourages them to work as scientists, gathering and analyzing data. I start with background information and show the first video or set of videos in class. I demonstrate to students the various aspects of the site to build interest. Then, because I teaching an online/blended school, students work on the rest of the lab independently. I post online discussion opportunities so students can share ideas and ask questions. When we meet again as a class, we have a discussion and generally students will work in groups on a project to demonstrate understanding of the concepts.