After the pandemic, high school science teachers across California’s Modesto City Schools found themselves spread thin and struggling to keep students engaged. Discover how Labster’s immersive virtual science labs helped bring STEM back to life in and outside the classroom.
"I think all of the teachers are stretched thin, but the nice thing is that having something that's engaging for the students gives teachers that opportunity to breathe and get excited again. Because they're seeing the kids light up, they're seeing the kids engage with content."
Challenge: Modesto City serves a diverse spectrum of learners, including a large refugee population, and students from dozens of ESL language backgrounds. Ensuring an equitable learning level district-wide can be a challenge, complicated by the pandemic which threatened to leave a legacy of learning loss and teacher burnout.
Solution: Labster’s virtual science labs were deployed in seven high schools across Modesto. Labster’s interactive simulations were chosen to help students visualize science concepts in real-world scenarios, and fuel engagement in and outside of class through gamification.
Results: Both teachers and students responded enthusiastically to Labster. Students were having fun, and teachers were thrilled to see kids doing homework and coming to class full of questions. Faculty now had ready-made content to spark excitement, explain complex ideas, and lighten the burden of costly wet lab materials. By assigning labs ahead of time, teachers could refocus class time on mentoring those who need it most, instead of rushing students through lectures. With Labster, Modesto has expanded its curriculum and given its science teachers a second wind in training the next generation of STEM.
Melody McGill is the Science Curriculum Coordinator for Modesto City Schools. A former teacher herself, Melody is focused on giving educators the tools they need to be at their best.
I had a couple of teachers look at it first and the feedback from them and their students was that it was easy to use, the students had greater and deeper conversations, and they were engaged with it.
Some teachers are using it as a jumpstart to pique student interest in a topic… A lot of teachers are using it to expand their content… you have the assessment piece… where you can see how the kids progressed, what did they miss? And if you assign it for something that's outside, most students are going to do it because they're excited about it.
You get back the time because the kids are engaged and you have something that's pre-made for you.. I think all of the teachers are stretched thin, but the nice thing is that having something that's engaging for the students gives teachers that opportunity to breathe and get excited again. Because they're seeing the kids light up, they're seeing the kids engage with content... I think that that helps the teachers regain some of that enthusiasm.
The question was, can any student access the content, from AP... to three or four grade levels below. And they were able to do that through Labster because the kids had the ability to move through the simulation at their speed. They could pause it, they could go back and look at the theory… When you've got 57 different languages that could be within your classroom at any given time, having the graphics available, where kids can really see what's happening facilitates the students being able to develop ideas about the content.
I think what you're going to see is teachers being able to do those labs where maybe financially we don't… have a piece of equipment that would be needed to be able to do maybe a more in-depth lab. I just want to make sure whatever we put in place is not putting an undue burden on the teacher, but it's also a benefit in the long term outcomes for the students. And right now that's where Labster is for us.
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