For many children interest in science drops off during the middle school years, but the University of Rhode Island is fighting back with UL Xplorlabs™ to encourage students to pursue higher education in STEM fields. Students in grades 4-12 are offered a unique learning course through The Science and Math Investigative Learning Experience (SMILE) as a pre-college opportunity. We spoke with SMILE Teachers Ethel Locke and Christina Dube about their experiences using UL Xplorlabs and how they customized the program to fit their needs.
Ethel Locke from Woonsocket High School in Woonsocket, Rhode Island and Christina Dube from South Kingston School District in Wakefield, Rhode Island both incorporated the Portable Electrical Power module into their after-school activities.
The bologna test was a favorite in Locke’s after-school classroom because of the practical and easy-to-understand activity that integrates a real-world safety issue. Students were kept on their toes while they observed the button cell batteries closely and understood the implications of a swallowed battery. Students asked questions and started to identify solutions: Will it catch on fire? Is it working? How do we design a better battery?
Locke, who worked with students from age 15-18, said how much she appreciated how the module challenged her students to think.
“This is good for students, because it forces them to realize there is more than one solution. It promotes creative thinking and that you can solve problems by thinking in that way.”
Students were interested in this kind of material because it’s “something they don’t usually get in school, about electronics and electrical safety,” Locke shared.
Dube saw an opportunity to incorporate real-life examples into the Portable Electrical Power module for her middle and high school students who have grown up surrounded by electronics. Students learned to make the connection between what they were holding in their hands and the science they were studying with the module. For Dube, that was a key part of the learning experience. She also wanted to show them that there are companies out there that are keeping people safe. Students even observed the UL Mark on various products and devices in the classroom.
Dube and Locke both agreed that programs like UL Xplorlabs that make a connection to everyday life are beneficial for students.
To see how UL Xplorlabs is being used by other groups and classrooms read more on our blog, including: