Doing a lab with a room full of kids can be unnerving in the best of conditions, whether they are 6, 12, or 16. You have balance explicit directions, chemicals, and scalpels with immaturity, ADHD, and power struggles (and that may just be your PLC).
How in the world are you supposed to do labs with your students while doing virtual learning?
The good news is that while this may be your first foray into virtual learning, there have been schools doing virtual learning with science for years, not to mention colleges and universities teaching science classes to students enrolled in distance learning.
Gizmos has some pretty amazing simulated labs and experiments. You can do everything from comparing plant growth in different simulated gardens based upon a variety of variables and building an ecosystem and monitoring how various animals interact to specific elements to learning about genetics by a simulation that involves breeding mice and constructing and duplicating DNA models.
Gizmos is very interactive and provides data tracking and graphing tools. It can be used in a traditional classroom setting, as a component to blended/flipped learning, or for 100% virtual learning.
It is aligned with a variety of educational standards for grades 3-12; it even has identified correlations with most science textbooks!
The downside is that it’s not free. There are only 34 free Gizmos, but this would be an incredible investment for your school. Take a look at it, and share it with your administrative and curriculum team.
Phet Interactive Simulations from the University of Colorado Boulder is completely free! There are 138 simulations for grades K-12, and they can all be translated into nearly 100 different languages with just the click of a button.
Phet specifically covers physics, chemistry, earth science, biology, and math. There are circuit conductor kits, energy experiments, and simulations for chemical reactions, genetics, motion, molecules, states of matter, and everything in between.
Simulations are aligned with most educational standard sets. Teachers can register and receive resources specific to each activity, including over 2,000 lessons. They even have a help page with tips for using their program in remote learning.
STEMscopes is an extensive compendium of K-12 science, math, and STEM lessons, activities, and resources developed and curated at Rice University. Their lessons are aligned with state, national, and international standards.
This product is not free; it is more of a curriculum or supplement with extensive lesson plans that include videos, activities, labs, and more. Digital licenses for a class of 24 runs between $125-$150 (at the time of this article). This is another product that you might want to consider suggesting to your administrative or curriculum teams.
Their Distance Learning resource page contains a lot of helpful information
NASA for Educators is as cool as it sounds! With content broken up into grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12, along with higher education and opportunities for teachers to learn and grow, NASA covers all the engaging space science imaginable. They offer lessons, activities that can be done at home, videos, and simulations.
Students can take virtual tours and trips, build models with at-home materials, interact with space simulations, train alongside astronauts, and even learn how to become an astronaut. There is even a current competition for designing a toilet for the Artemis astronauts to use on the moon.
Brain Pop probably isn’t new to most teachers. It offers games and simulated labs for all grade levels, K-12. The more than 100 games, including the Antibiotic Resistance Game, Beastbox (Wildlife DJ), Energy Skate Park, Earthquake Game, Water Cycle Game, and Wind Simulator.
In addition to games and simulations, Brain Pop has entertaining educational videos, interactive assessments, and lessons.
Their lessons, games, and activities are aligned to state and national standards, as well as the standards for Canada, England, Scotland, and Australia. They have a program for ELLs and some options in French and Spanish.
The Exploratorium is a museum in San Fransisco that offers some amazing digital resources at no charge. There are videos (including a Cow Eye Dissection), simulator apps, and activities that can be done at home.
BioMan Biology has interactive games and simulations for body systems, cells, ecology, evolution & classification, genetics & meiosis, life chemistry, respiration & photosynthesis, and the scientific method. Everything on the site is free, and quiz results can be sent to the teachers.
Visionlearning: While this site doesn’t have any virtual labs or simulations, it is an extensive collection of lessons, interactive quizzes, and videos.
HippoCampus: This site has a vast library of videos for math, science, social studies, and ELA pulled from a wide variety of sources.
The Science Bank: This site provides a list of resources and links teachers can use for alternatives to animal use in science classrooms.
Virtual Frog Dissection Kit: This is an interactive frog dissection simulation. It’s pretty basic, but it is possible to translate it into several languages.
Virtual Fetal Pig Dissection: This walks students through a fetal pig dissection with pictures, labels, and explanations.
Virtual Owl Pellet Dissection: This is an interactive simulation in which students can remove bones from an owl pellet and attempt to piece together a skeleton.
Peta: If your school commits to replacing animal dissections with humane alternatives, PETA will donate non-animal learning methods to your school to choose from, one of which is a frog dissection simulator.