Shawn Zeringue teaches Chemistry at West Ranch High School, California, where the Science Department has widely adopted Labster. West Ranch educates a population of 2,200 students, including low-income households, ESL students, and SPED learners.
We sat down with Shawn and asked her about how Labster is making an impact at West Ranch.
How does West Ranch High School use Labster?
We have 8 in our department, more than half are using Labster. We use it for a couple of things; we use it to supplement our curriculum, there’s a safety one all about safety in the classroom we use before we even start our first lab, and we use it for assessments, or on top of a lab to reinforce a concept. [For example] you can’t really do a lab on atoms, [but there is] a really good Labster on atoms; protons, neutrons, electrons, so we use that for chemistry. And we use it in our SPED department too.
What about you? How do you use Labster in your classroom?
My teaching is very much a flipped classroom. So I feed them information at home. I frontload them [with Labster] and then when they come into class we practice, review the concepts and then we do labs. And that helps because they walk in with some type of knowledge, versus walking in going ‘what are we doing today.’ [Kids] like that they can do it at home, and they like that they can move at their own pace.
When you do a lab in class, you only have a set amount of time to do it, and then the bell rings, but at home if you assign it over a couple of days, they can pause and come back to it, and they don’t feel so rushed with it.
What role does Labster play in Special Education?
We have special education for chemistry and special education for biology, and those two teachers use it quite often because a lot of the kids are more visual learners that are in there, and they can move at their own pace, versus trying to shuffle them through a lab. And then they can get more one on one help.
That has helped a lot in our SPED department.
How does Labster impact the cost of doing science labs?
Labster saves us because we don’t always have money to buy lab equipment… [for example] we use Labster in molecular biology because it’s hard to buy all the stains and slides... we just don’t have that equipment.
How do your students respond to Labster?
My kids like to play around, they like to do simulations, and they’re very visual learners. They’re all into video games so if you can bring the aspect of a video game into your class and teach your content that way, you’ve got 'em hooked... I know anatomy uses it a lot because the kids like the simulation, because It zooms in, it zooms out, they have to actually physically put goggles on so they think that’s pretty cool.
How do you think Labster impacts learning outcomes?
I definitely think the kids understand the content better when they get to do a simulation. And so that final ‘Aha! moment’ when they understand how to convert units, or they understand that an atom is so small, and it finally all clicks... They felt like they were scientists.
If you add it in a Labster, plus an ed puzzle, plus going through it in class, the concepts seem to stick with the kids a lot more, they seem to understand it. So combining those three things, it’s like the whole of teaching. It completes the circle.
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