Not enough space or funding for lab science? No problem.

SCIENCE LAB SERVER FARMS

Almost 1,000 students attending resource-poor public schools have access to professional science laboratory equipment through the Remote Online Lab Network at Northwestern University, Illinois, USA.

The network allows schools without sufficient space, funding, or equipment to establish their own virtual science labs. Funded by the HP Catalyst Initiative as part of the Multi-Versity consortium, this developing project demonstrates how a virtual science lab allows students anywhere in the world to access resources, explore questions, obtain authentic data, and share results.

Virtual science labs allow students to access resources, explore questions, obtain authentic data, and share results.

As students conduct experiments online, they watch science equipment in action through live video feeds. They are involved in every aspect of their experiment from start to finish, and can specify the purpose, variables, and number of runs. After completing their experiments, students view data results in multiple graphs, and export their objectives and conclusions into a PDF report.

The project encompasses seven schools and touches nearly 1,000 students. Feedback from the participating schools has been very positive. Students are provided with significantly more lab time because virtual labs are accessible 24/7. They also like being free to work from anywhere that has Internet access.

Teachers report that students feel less pressure to get the experiment right the first time because they are not working in the traditional group setting of a lab. And this means they can actively learn from their mistakes, and try out their own creative methods.

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