Sterling Academy Blog

Do online science classes have lab work?

Posted by Sterling Staff on Jul 6, 2015 7:30:00 AM

It’s hard to imagine science classes without hands-on laboratory work. Since all our classes at Sterling Academy are online, parents sometimes wonder whether their child will miss out on this valuable part of the science education experience. There is no reason to worry, though, because modern technology enables us to ensure our online students get personalized, realistic laboratory experiences. 

Laboratory-based projects can be replicated in a number of different ways for students taking online classes, as re-creations of actual scientific experiments. That means Sterling Academy students can enjoy the adventure of laboratory experimentation without costly supplies, worrisome environmental and safety issues or time-consuming clean up.


Here’s how our online labs work.

Our program allows us to present virtual labs in two different ways:

  1. Experiments can be shown as simulations where students watch as the steps are being performed. While they are learning, they are also sharpening their powers of observation, an important skill in life as well as in school.   
  2. In most of our labs, the student performs the work using a click-and-drag interface. Our students receive background information on the topic and an overview of how the experiment is set up. They follow the data collection process and use a downloadable data sheet to record their findings as they move through the procedure.

After that, the lab is completed in one of two ways, both of which are designed to gauge whether the student understands what they have learned from the lab:

  • For many labs, students answer a set of questions based directly on the lab content.
  • For others, students write up a complete lab report, using a Student Lab Guide that lays out exactly what needs to be included. The first page briefly describes what to include, then the next six pages give explanations and examples of how the report is to be written up. Students must complete this report before moving forward with the course.

For some labs, we can also provide instructions that enable students to perform the work at home, if necessary materials are available.   

No classroom? No problem.

Just because your child isn’t sitting in a classroom doesn’t mean they cannot experience the full practical benefits of step-by-step laboratory work. In many ways, their experience is more valuable because online learning is self-paced.

Like all online classes, students participate in our labs in the way that works for them. If they master concepts quickly, they can progress quickly. But they can also take their time and go back over material until they truly understand. If they get stuck, Sterling students can schedule a mutually acceptable time to get all the one-on-one help they need from their teacher. Our labs are focused on learning, not a classroom clock.

Hands-on experiments and other forms of applied learning are an integral part of our curriculum at Sterling Academy. Our goal is to provide our online students with the highest quality education, in an environment that enables each individual to study and succeed on their own terms. Contact us today to discover more about our curriculum and course offerings beyond the science lab.

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