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No lab, no problem: Virtual Scientist takes experiments to remote students

Chemistry
Dr Amanda Tauber, Dr Stephanie Schweiker and Dr Stephen Levonis.

by Grace Knight 

Three Bond University academics have received another accolade for creating an interactive website where students conduct virtual experiments.

Dr Stephanie Schweiker, Dr Stephen Levonis and Dr Amanda Tauber began building The Virtual Scientist for their chemistry students in 2019. It has since been adopted by educators around the world.

The 360-degree virtual laboratory offers practical experiments with interactive videos, providing students with a realistic experience even in remote learning situations.

The Virtual Scientist.

The Virtual Scientist is aimed at high school and university students but virtual experiments are being developed for preschool and primary school students.

Experiments include synthesising nylon, growing crystals and determining the concentrations of acids.

The trio’s most recent award was a citation for outstanding contributions to student learning at the Australian Awards of University Teaching. 

Dr Schwelker said many schools in regional and remote areas did not have access to laboratory facilities and were disadvantages when it came time for their final exams.

“Our next project is creating the Queensland syllabus senior science laboratory experiments so that regional or disadvantaged students can access the resource and complete their mandatory experiments through our website.”

The Virtual Scientist has also won an esteemed Horizon Prize for Education from the Royal Society of Chemistry, a JoVE Educator Innovation Award and a Centenary of Federation Teaching Team Award.

The team hopes to expand the website to cover biology and physics. 

“Eventually we would love to facilitate heaps of experiments that target all ages and sciences, however it all requires funding,” Dr Schweiker said.

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