J Hoeffner

Mardela Middle High School

When I first started this wiki 3 years ago, I was simply making a 'hotlist' of online science labs and simulations to use in teaching mostly middle school science. Since then, I have been involved some really great PD with ESPRIT at Salisbury University. I have discovered so many connecting ideas that I just have to share them as well. So my site has evolved as things do into using many online resources to teach science. Two of the latest additions, Example Lesson and Slowmation are hot off the presses for me anyway, I learned about them on April 16, 2009 and immediately impleted them in the classroom - they were instant hits with both my students and myself.


Hands-on labs in Science are wonderful, exciting and necessary for student understanding. Students need that tactile observation gained from manipulating objects with their own hands and I would never advocate replacing hands-on lessons. But after 30 years in the classroom, I am delighted to have another tool to use in teaching middle school science. Sometimes you don't have the available materials - who has proton accelerators - sometimes the concept is so abstract, the kids just don't 'get it' without a visual - sometimes they just need to look at it in a different way. After all, recent studies show that most students need to have 4 or more meaningful dialogues with a concept before they can expect mastery. So I love virtual labs, they:
  • capture students' interest
  • offer students an alternative learning modality
  • offer students additional practice / exposure to a concept
  • supplement traditional labs
  • offer virtual experimentation with materials you cannot get or use in school

'Because of the explosive growth in our scientific understanding, today's students are required to learn and maintain a rapidly expanding knowledge base. . . Influenced by a lifetime surrounded by media, computers, and the Internet, they bring with them different expectations. As educators, we need to meet these expectations in order to motivate students to move forward.'
Camillan Huang PhD is the Virtual Labs Project Director at SUMMIT


Which of these activities will fit your standards?
Which of these activities do you need to research further?
How are you going to implement the activity, as a learning station, small groups, individuals?
Will you assess their work, if so how?
What needs to be done to be able to use one of these activities successfully?