How Labster Aligns with the 5E Instructional Model 

Ginelle Testa

Imagine in your STEM classroom, students are engaged and excited about what they’re learning. They’re open-minded and ready to tackle the challenges you present. This is possible with the 5E instructional model, originally developed (by BSCS) for use in biology courses, making it a STEM-first approach to learning widely used by educators. 

Here are the 5Es:

  • Engage

  • Explore

  • Explain

  • Elaborate

  • Evaluate


The purpose of this model is to create “teachable moments” or times to get students engaged and active in the classroom. These moments are not random; you can cultivate them in your classroom using the 5Es. Teachable moments only occur when students are most receptive to learning. To do this, you need to put issues into a context in which students will understand and be interested (1). 

The 5 Es encourage students to tackle real-world problems, such as diabetes. Labster is a great tool to help with this, as we have interactive storylines that engage students with real-world scenarios. We’ve identified how Labster aligns with each E. 

How Labster aligns with the 5Es

The example we’ve identified is Diabetes. Students will have to identify and reconstruct their understanding of the topic.  


This E refers to when the concept is introduced to the student for the first time. The purpose is to “generate interest, stimulate curiosity, and raise questions” (1). 

Using Labster: There may be a preparatory session before engaging with the labs to get students up-to-date on the topic. You may pose an issue, such as “What is diabetes? Do you know anyone with diabetes?” Get students to connect their prior experiences and guess what’s to come. Some instructors who use Labster use our virtual labs after first introducing the concepts in class. 


This E refers to concrete learning experiences. Students may use the scientific method to address a problem as they pose questions and find answers (1).

Using Labster: Students can play a virtual lab. They can do this alone or in small groups, going through the gamified simulations to learn more about the topic. For example, they may go through our Diabetes virtual lab, learning more about the basics of Type II diabetes. There is a storyline where students will learn how to measure their own blood sugar levels, give themselves an insulin shot, and put together a healthy meal plan.


This E refers to asking questions to synthesize learning. It’s making sure that students clearly understand the topic (1). 

Using Labster: Our virtual labs have built-in quiz questions to test and solidify learning and let teachers know where students are getting stuck. This is a great way for students to show that they grasp the concepts. One question in the Diabetes virtual lab is, “Does diabetes run in families? “Students must choose from four answers to identify what they’ve learned. 


This E refers to allowing students to apply what they’ve learned, using the concepts in new situations (1). 

Using Labster: Students can write a lab report following the Labster report template. There are several steps to help them apply their learnings, and the last one is to “discuss the conclusions and implications of the simulation.” They can then present their findings to the class.


This E refers to formal and informal assessments, where instructors see if students have grasped the material. They’re assessing each student’s level of understanding (1).

Using Labster: Instructors can evaluate students based on the culmination of their projects. How did they engage in the preparatory session, during the virtual lab quiz questions, and when filling out lab reports?

Classroom applications & questions for consideration

It will take some initial planning to get set up for the 5Es, but once you do it, your students will benefit. You can adapt it to students in your class to be the best fit possible. 

Gini Ennis, a High School Science Department Chair and Teacher, shared that “Labster is a transformative teaching and learning tech tool that is absolutely essential for successful delivery of the brain based learning 5e Model of Instruction for Science courses.”

  • Are you using this model? How do you apply it in your STEM classroom?

  • Can you apply a Labster virtual lab to the 5Es?


(1) Bybee, R., Taylor, J. A., Gardner, A., Van Scotter, P., Carlson Powell, J., Westbrook, A., & Landes, N. (2015). The BSCS 5E instructional model. Arlington, TX: NSTA press.

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