Are you hesitant about using in-person labs in the classroom? Virtual labs are a great option for both in-school and distance learning!
There are LOTS of options out there for online simulations – definitely too many to count! Here are some of my favorite virtual labs to use with my students. Hopefully, it helps to narrow down all of the choices!
Take some time to explore and maybe add something new to your toolbox! BTW, I am not affiliated with any of these programs – just sharing the love! 🙂
1. Explore Learning Gizmos
Explore Learning is an AWESOME site for online science simulations! They advertise that they are the world’s largest library of math and science simulations. I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true!
Our school has a subscription, and I can honestly say that it is worth every penny – more so now with all of the distance learning taking place!
The thing that I love most about these virtual labs is that there they offer so much support for each of the Gizmo activities.
Each virtual lab simulation contains a student exploration sheet (plus answers key) and a teacher guide with ideas as well as a quick student assessment. The teacher guide gives ideas for teaching the entire topic, not just for using the Gizmo.
The guides are in PDF as well as MS Word. The great part about using Word is that you can easily customize the labs to your liking. This is my favorite part because it is great to be able to modify for special education as well as ELL students!
The only drawback that I have seen is the price. However;…..
They offer Free Gizmo simulations!!! – Just register for the free account and get full access to the free virtual labs. The cool thing is that they change monthly, so you have access to a completely new set of labs to use with your students.
2. Phet Virtual Labs
Phet is another popular website for science simulations. Phet simulations are free, which is always a plus. I have found that these virtual labs are easily searchable by grade and discipline. These labs are particularly good for physics and chemistry lessons,
Phet simulations are less structured but they are ideal for guided inquiry. Some contain PDFs to guide the students. This was a little bit hidden to me, but you can find it under the “for teachers” link inside each simulation.
It’s definitely worth checking out!
3. NOVA Labs
In my opinion, anything produced by PBS is great! Take Daniel Tiger for instance… 🙂
They only offer a few topics, but if you are teaching about climate, evolution, cyber-security, RNA, clouds, energy, or the sun this is a great place to start!
Each topic has a combination of videos, animations, interviews with scientists, and mini-games that are easy to use and engaging for students.
I have used the clouds lab in the past during our weather unit and my sixth graders were really engaged in the program!
4. The Concord Consortium
If you are looking for FREE interactive STEM activities that align with NGSS, you will love this site!
This site was recommended by a science teacher friend who swears by it in her classroom. I have been spending some time on it this week and I definitely think I will add it to my toolbox for fall.
These modules are step by step and focus on data analysis. They also integrate Claims, Evidence, and Reason!!
5. Inq-ITS Virtual Lab
Recently, I have been fascinated with the Inq-ITS (pronounced “ink-its”) science inquiry labs!
These labs are are self-grading and track data for student growth. It is easy to share through Google Classroom!
This is also a paid subscription, but if you sign up for a free teacher account, you can access all of the General Inquiry labs, PLUS one of the physical, life or Earth science labs to use with your students. This makes it a great option for your students, even if you don’t purchase the subscription.
If you are using Claims, Evidence, and Reason in the classroom, you will love these virtual lab simulations! Each lab ends with a C-E-R paragraph that breaks down how to use the data to support your claim. Plus, many of the labs include AUTOMATIC scoring of the CER! I don’t think it could get much better! 🙂
6. 3 M Young Scientist Lab
These are seriously cool and I wish they offered more than 6 choices.
During our energy unit, I love to use the Wind Energy interactive. Students design, build, and test wind turbines as they try to power 400 homes for the cheapest price.
This is also a great virtual activity to use with the scientific method!
I’d be happy to send you a copy of the Virtual Wind Lab that I use with the 3M Young Scientist Simulation! It’s no-prep and ready to go!
Share your favorite virtual lab simulations below so we can share the love! 🙂