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Clintondale High School, which is just outside of Detroit, became one of the first schools to completely “flip” their classrooms back in 2010. Greg Green, the principal of Clintondale, was one of the early pioneers of flipping the classroom in the US, and the results he achieved have led schools across the country to adopt the same education strategy.

Before flipping every classroom, Green told the New York Times, “On average we approximated a 30 percent failure rate. With flipping, it dropped to under 10 percent.” Graduation rates spiked as well, which are now over 90 percent. Even more impressively, college attendance rose from 63 percent to 80 percent in two years.

What Exactly Is A Flipped Classroom?

So what exactly does a teacher do to flip the classroom and how does it work? In a flipped classroom, teachers assign video lectures and reading material as homework. In the classroom, teachers are then able to work with students directly on problems, projects and labs. So instead of students getting lost at home on math problems or science projects, they are doing it in the classroom in collaboration with their classmates and teachers.

Salman Khan popularized the flipped classroom with his 2011 TED talk about using video to transform education. In the years since his education startup Khan Academy has taught hundreds of thousands of students with video lectures with the support of philanthropists like Bill Gates. Khan and Gates argue that flipping the classroom frees up teachers to become even better instructors and work on projects they wouldn’t have been able to dedicate time to otherwise. “A lot of people think it just has to do with technology,” said Kim Spriggs, who teaches business and marketing at Clintondale.

It’s actually more time for kids to do higher-order thinking and hands-on projects. Instead of presenting the information in class and having students work on projects at home, where they don’t necessarily have support, here in class, one-on-one or in small groups, I can help them immediately.

Flipping The Lab?

At Labster, we are working with university professors and high school teachers to flip the idea of STEM labs on their head. All across the world administrators and teachers alike are facing cuts to lab time because of costs, especially in large introductory courses. In our experience students often consider their lab work the best part of their education experience, because they are able to put their knowledge to the test with real-world experiments.

250 students at Aarhus University in Denmark, using Labster’s CSI lab training before entering the wet lab.

So how do we give students more lab experience without incurring the costs associated with lab time? When you flip the lab, you are able to prepare students before they even reach the lab. By introducing concepts like experimental design, critical thinking, and data analysis beforehand you’re able to make lab time more meaningful once it begins.

In turn, we are researching with our partners to discover ways to reduce the learning curve of laboratory work so students can get the most out of it rather than wasting precious lab time with introductory lessons. By reducing the wet-lab learning curve students will have a head start for more discovery-based and research-oriented undergraduate labs. Even more, we are able to offer faculty data on the their students’ performance in virtual labs so that they are better able to tailor their lessons to their students.