Content Mastery at St. John Bosco High School

St. John Bosco High School

Content Mastery at St. John Bosco High School

St. John Bosco High School

Read more about:

  • How to maintain academic rigor with Labster 
  • How to combine Labster with in-person labs
  • How to offer extra credit with Labster

“Everything just clicks really well. There is clarity and great graphics, and it makes students analyze, think and process. If you’re looking for really in-depth rigor, then I recommend pairing Labster with in-person laboratories.”

Robert Linares


Robert Linares is not trying to be his students’ favorite teacher. He’s busy preparing them for the intensity of college and professional school by maintaining academic rigor in the Biomedical Pathway Program at St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, California. “I tell students, ‘If I’m not close to top of the list of your most difficult teachers, then I’m not doing my job.”

During the pandemic, Linares needed a tool to simulate hands-on laboratories during distance learning. He adopted Labster’s virtual lab simulations and worked to enrich them with his own lab report assignments.

Challenge: Give high school students a deep learning experience

Simulations used: 41 simulations were used, from Acids and Bases to Titration

Faculty Bio: Robert Linares is the Coordinator of the Biomedical Science Pathways Program at St. John Bosco High School.

Pushed by the pandemic to adopt a solution

The Biomedical Pathway at St. John Bosco High School is designed for students who excel in mathematics and natural sciences and are interested in the fields of biology or medicine. Students in the Pathway conduct independent research, participate in medical simulations, and attend lectures provided by professionals from physicians to research scientists.

“I was looking for labs to kind of backfill the hands-on experience. The pandemic pushed me to try it but that doesn’t mean that if somebody had said, ‘hey, look at these Labster simulations’ prior to the pandemic, that I wouldn’t have seen it and incorporated it - but I’d certainly have planned a slower rollout.

What was it like to get started with Labster?

When it comes to technology ... I don’t lack proficiency, but I’m not very proficient either. I came across a hurdle and someone in Labster support got me on Zoom and walked me through it in the span of about a minute.

How do you use Labster?

For example, for one quarter of molecular biology, which was about seven and a half weeks long, I gave the students five simulations. One of them was for extra credit. I would have liked to do even more, but I have to be cognizant of the fact that I’m not the only teacher they have. I have to guard against putting too much onto the students. But they’re experiencing success. I can see their progress in the teacher dashboard with all their scores and how many times they tried it.

Is Labster too hard for high school students?

Here’s the thing with the Labster - incredible visuals, incredible graphics, very clear details. If you run across a word you don’t understand, you can pause Labster and Google it. If you put some work into the work, you will absorb it.

It’s like I tell my students: ‘Don’t just study for a test until you’re ready to get an A’ – because that’s not content mastery. Content mastery is when you can teach that material to someone else. It’s about making cross connections, it’s about knowing why, how, when, what, where. It’s not about the flashcard mentality, which is just definitions.

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