Experiment | Explore | Engage
Practical e-learning tools for science
Media coverage and endorsements
LabSkills has won the backing of leaders from the academic, scientific, television and business communities. Some examples are:
“Practical work is the essence of science, and high quality practical work can have an enormous influence on student's learning and motivation. But it is important that scarce laboratory time and resources are used to the best effect: practical work needs to be carefully planned so time is used well and genuine enquiry takes place. I am impressed by A level LabSkills because it helps prepare the ground so that effective practical work can take place, as well as improving students' confidence and capability.”
Professor Sir John Holman
Former Director, National Science Learning Centre
“As a scientific experimenter, it can be fun to just 'try it and see'. With this software, I was able to 'blow up the lab' quite safely, learning how to avoid the same mistakes in reality! Practical scientific skills are so useful in many areas, and are vital to the chemists of the future. As a former teacher myself, I know LabSkills will add an extremely valuable new dimension to the study of chemistry by helping to reinforce the importance of scientific rigour and of health and safety, while being informative and engaging.”
Former BBC 'Tomorrow's World' presenter Kate Bellingham
National Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Careers Co-ordinator (supporting the government's 10 year STEM programme)
“Practical skills are crucial for success in science courses. This revolutionary resource can give students a chance to explore, question things and make mistakes before and after lessons, meaning they can use their valuable laboratory time much more constructively and efficiently. It's really important for students to be able to learn by doing and to be able to make mistakes from which they improve their understanding. This resource allows students to engage in scientific decision making and provides a safe environment for them to experiment.”
Professor Kathy Sykes
Bristol University scientist and TV broadcaster
“LabSkills could revolutionise the way practical chemistry is approached in schools. By encouraging students to prepare for their experimental work, it will help them to view practical chemistry as something much more than a recipe-following exercise. Through enhanced independence they will be better equipped to meet the future needs of industry. Positive experiences in practical chemistry at school are key in influencing the paths of many would-be scientists. This is an opportunity that we must harness.”
Dr Tony Wood
Vice President and Worldwide Head of Medicinal Chemistry, Pfizer Global R&D
LabSkills in the news
As a cutting-edge tool in science education, LabSkills frequently appears in the news:
Times Higher Education Award - Outstanding ICT Initiative
“The project has had a great impact on chemistry teaching.”
Times Educational Supplement
“...LabSkills, a ground-breaking computer program...”
BBC News website
“A new learning programme is allowing pupils to practise chemistry experiments online before they are let loose in the school laboratory.”
Education in Chemistry
“Developed by Learning science and chemists at Bristol University, this interactive laboratory manual enables both trainee teachers and chemistry student to do 'pre lab' work ahead of practical classes, allowing them to get the most out of their time in the lab”
“Discover Chemistry is working to ensure that the fantastic educational resources that already exist are benefiting the people who need them”
Channel 4 website
“It helps students make the difficult link between theoretical chemistry and practical activities.”
The University of Bristol website
“The goal of LabSkills is to enhance the benefits that can be gained from doing chemistry practicals - but not replace them.”
The University of Bristol website
“A new software resource is set to transform the way A Level science is taught in schools.”
“As a former teacher myself, I know LabSkills will add an extremely valuable new dimension to the study of chemistry...”
The Independent Educational Supplement
“The package delivers, through a clear interface, examples and techniques for use within the AS Chemistry Lab...”
LabSkills has the full backing of the Royal Society of Chemistry and is the focus of a number of national initiatives:
LabSkills is being used to support trainee chemistry teachers in the UK. Over 1500 copies have been provided by the RSC to PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) students. Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) trainee teachers are also supported under this initiative.
The Science Additional Specialism Programme (SASP)
LabSkills is a key resource within this new CPD programme for teachers whose highest qualification in chemistry does not exceed A Level, or who have not undertaken initial teacher training in chemistry, but who aim to deliver A Level chemistry courses.
Educational research, evaluation, reports
The innovative approaches used in LabSkills have been the focus of a number of research projects.
Transferring Best Pratice From Undergraduate Practical Teaching To Secondary Schools: The Dynamic Laboratory Manual (2009) by Timothy G. Harrison, Dudley E. Shallcross, William J. Heslop, John R. Eastman and Anthony J. Baldwin
Abstract: Pre-laboratory work has been shown to be an effective investment at undergraduate level in chemistry at the University of Bristol. A Dynamic Laboratory Manual (DLM) has been developed to allow undergraduate students to rehearse practicals using virtual experiments, video clips and a range of assessment support. The DLM has been shown to be highly successful in its goals. In this paper we describe the development and implementation of a DLM appropriate to post-16 students at school or college which also has applications in teacher training courses. First results from evaluation are presented which show an improvement in practical skill and cognition.
In February 2009, the RSC and Pfizer commissioned the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) to research the effectiveness of the LabSkills software for trainee chemistry teachers and their students.
In January 2009, Schoolzone, (a company which has the largest teacher research community in the UK) commissioned an independent review of the LabSkills software.