Value of a virtual STEM lab in todays education approach
Aashish Maheshwari - Aug 29, 2020
Science is the study of our surrounding phenomenon. It`s about discovering the things happening around us. It has evolved because of the curiosity of Human Being and it's a never-ending process. While everyday science is evolving rapidly, as humans we are still not able to understand many things. We educators have a huge responsibility when it comes to teaching science, where we have to keep a fine balance between the prescribed curriculum to be taught and curiosity of students.
A very important part of learning science is to explore through a process called Experiential Learning,which encourages students to ask why, explore how and infer. These things spark curiosity in young minds and which leads to innovative ideas. It’s an active way of learning which when compared to the passive one where the teacher just tells the facts and students take it as it is. Active learning leads to far-reaching effects in understanding. Experiments give students the opportunity to explore new ideas, allow them to discern the concept behind the ideas and also visualize what’s exactly happening.
Experimenting requires well-equipped labs, but many schools still don’t have those facilities especially in small towns/villages. Reasons may vary from place to place and school to school. Even if labs exist, sometimes the teacher just performs the experiment while the rest of the class watches due to a lack of sufficient number of equipment and facilities. With the current unfortunate situation of Covid-19, where most educational institutes are operating online and little hope of going to physical classes very soon, we cannot think of experiential learning. But thanks to digital learning tools, scenarios have changed now. With the maturity of IT & Telecom infrastructure, and with the internet expanding its reach, digital learning has made it possible to learn science in virtual environments. The digit education is the new Normal which has the ability to reach far and it can penetrate deep without many barriers.
In the last 12 years of my teaching experience , I have explored different ways to connect to students and always keen on finding innovative methods to make learning impactful. For a teacher, engaging the student in the subject, nurturing their innovative skills, creating interest in the subject are key objectives and responsibilities. I am a firm believer in Learning by Doing concept. In my quest to make science learning impactful I came across ScholAR. On my first glance at the product, I understood that I can now do something to fill the gap between “Learning and methods of learning”.By empowering teachers with new methods of teaching, we can now help them deliver on very complex science problems with hands-on experiments just by clicking around on an immersive software application. This approach can not only create the same impact as a real laboratory but also take you through granular details which otherwise are not possible. Sometimes it’s not even possible to perform experiments in real labs but can be done in virtual labs. It’s extremely useful for teachers as they can now make their students visualize difficult science concepts with the help of simulations. For example, when a teacher has to teach the concept of Acids & Bases, practical experiments are avoided sometimes because of dangerous chemicals used. However, using ScholAR a student can perform the tests without any concerns about safety.
Another very important concept of Chemical Bonding which is one very theoretical concept, can be made interesting by playing with atoms in ScholAR.
Concept of image formation by Lenses and mirror is another challenging task for teachers to make the students visualize the situation. This can now be done fairly easily using a simulation where students can get hands-on experience.
These are some examples where you can see the power of ScholAR. With the rich content and its interactive features students can play with science experiments to get a hands-on experience. Teachers can use ScholAR to plan their lessons by utilizing practical examples / real-life applications side-by-side and also assess with comprehensive assessments that come along with simulations. Sometimes I think, have I missed an opportunity of exploring science in such an innovative way in my school days but I take this as an opportunity to present a world-class product to young minds to bridge the gap in our education system.
As the Lead Content Designer for ScholAR and also an educator, I am blessed to have both digital and classroom experience. With the technological advancements in all fields, education is also experiencing a paradigm shift from Older ways to teaching to New Innovative ways of Learning. The onus is now on Educators and Technologists to explore a synergy between both. We should empower teachers and students with the technology, which can be beneficial for development of students to become scientists, researchers or innovators. Let’s keep their curiosity preserved and help Human Kind to keep exploring, keep experimenting and keep learning through Experiences.
So,Let these Young Minds Experiment