Frequently Asked Questions

Educational Approach and Benefits:

Hands-on activities are undoubtedly crucial in science education, and VST resources are designed to enhance and support these practical experiences. Our interactive materials serve as valuable supplements, providing essential practice and effective remediation. Teachers find them incredibly useful for reinforcing hands-on learning. Additionally, VST resources are particularly beneficial for days when direct hands-on activities are not possible, such as substitute teaching days. This ensures that educators have a diverse array of tools to meet their learners’ needs, making our resources a critical component in a well-rounded educational approach.

At Virtual Science Teachers (VST), we champion active learning, a vibrant educational approach that diverges from the traditional passive learning style. Passive learning typically involves students absorbing information through lectures, often with limited engagement. In contrast, VST’s active learning strategy deeply involves students in their educational journey. Our offerings, including interactive lessons, simulations, and challenges, are meticulously crafted to foster an immersive and participatory learning environment. This methodology is underpinned by research, such as the study by Theobald et al. (2020), which demonstrates the effectiveness of active learning in STEM education, notably in narrowing achievement gaps and boosting student performance. VST’s core mission is to deliver STEM learning experiences that are not just engaging and interactive but also profoundly effective.

 

Supporting our approach, research by Thisgaard and Makransky (2017) underscores the benefits of virtual learning simulations, especially in high school settings. Their findings indicate that virtual simulations can significantly elevate students’ understanding of subjects like biology while also maintaining crucial non-cognitive factors like self-efficacy and motivation. This is in perfect harmony with VST’s mission, as we provide dynamic simulations and virtual experiments that actively engage students, thus contributing to their growing knowledge and interest in STEM fields.

 

Furthermore, a meta-analysis by Freeman et al. (2014) reinforces the value of active learning, highlighting its role in improving examination performance and reducing failure rates in STEM courses when compared to traditional lecturing methods. Similarly, research by Brinson (2015) shows the effectiveness of remote labs and virtual simulations in science education, with students using virtual labs achieving comparable or superior performance in content assessments than those using physical labs. VST’s high-quality virtual labs are a testament to our commitment to leveraging these proven methods, ensuring that our resources align with the latest and most effective trends in science education.

 

Overall, research affirms that modeled, experiential learning is highly effective for science education. VST is dedicated to offering engaging learning experiences that are modeled on evidence-based best practices in active learning.

 

References:

  1. Theobald et al. (2020) – [Link to the study]
  2. Thisgaard and Makransky (2017) – [Link to the study]
  3. Freeman et al., (2014) – [Link to the study]
  4. Brinson (2015) – [Link to the study]

 

VST’s interactive resources actively engage students in the learning process, making complex concepts more digestible and retaining interest with instant feedback and gradual concept building.

Yes, our resources are carefully designed to align with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL). We are actively working to map our content to other state standards, recognizing that our resources are versatile and compatible with a broad range of educational standards across various states. Our goal is to provide educators and students with high-quality, standards-aligned learning tools that enhance science education nationwide.

Using VST in the Classroom:

It’s very straightforward – teachers can simply share the resource link with students, making it a versatile tool for both in-class and remote learning scenarios.

Most interactives have a final page for student signatures or display student-entered names, which can be screenshot and sent to the teacher.

VST specializes in creating interactive resources primarily designed for middle school students. However, we’ve found that these resources effectively support high school learning as well. We consciously avoid assigning specific grade levels to our materials, recognizing that teachers and students across a wide range of grades find them useful and adaptable to their unique educational needs.

At VST, our current resource library spans a diverse range of subjects, including Earth Science (encompassing Environmental Science), Physical Science, Life Science, and General Science topics. We are continually expanding our offerings with more interactives, virtual labs, bell ringers, bingo games, and various educational tools. Your suggestions are invaluable to us, and we warmly invite you to share your ideas. Please feel free to email us at admin@virtualscienceteachers.org with any suggestions or feedback.

At VST, we design our interactive resources with clarity and simplicity in mind. Each page features straightforward language and minimal text to ensure that students can easily understand and absorb the material. Additionally, we’re enhancing accessibility by developing read-aloud versions of our interactives. This feature, allowing for text selection and audio playback, not only aids in comprehension but also supports reading development, making our resources more inclusive and effective for all learners.

Yes, VST currently offers a selection of interactives translated into Spanish. We are committed to expanding our language offerings and plan to translate our resources into additional languages in the future to cater to a more diverse audience.

Technical and Accessibility Questions:

To maintain privacy and ease of access, VST avoids personal data collection, focusing on barrier-free resource availability.

No, Virtual Science Teachers (VST) does not collect personally identifying information through our website or directly through our educational resources. We prioritize the privacy of our users and are dedicated to creating a secure online environment. The information we collect is limited to non-personally identifying analytics, which helps us understand general usage patterns and improve our resources. Our focus is on enhancing educational content while respecting the privacy and security of our users. Any personal information collected through other channels, like our Teachers Pay Teachers store, is managed by those platforms and is separate from VST’s direct operations.

We are currently enhancing our resources by utilizing Articulate Storyline 360, focusing on improved accessibility. This upgrade includes features like image tagging and keyboard-only navigation, aligning with the WCAG standards to ensure a more inclusive learning experience. If you have specific accessibility needs or requests regarding any of our resources, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at admin@virtualscienceteachers.org. We are committed to accommodating your requirements and providing the necessary support promptly.

Our materials are optimized for compatibility with both computers and tablets. We advise teachers to conduct a thorough test of any VST resource within the school environment and on the devices intended for student use. This proactive approach ensures a smooth and effective learning experience when implementing our resources in your classroom.

Support and Sustainability:

VST relies on a mix of grants, donations, sponsorships, and our Teachers Pay Teachers store sales.

You can support VST through various means: by making donations, purchasing resources from our Teachers Pay Teachers store, or engaging in sponsorships. If your organization is interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact us at admin@virtualscienceteachers.org. We are also open to collaborative efforts and value partnerships that enhance our mission.

We are actively seeking volunteers to enrich our platform and community outreach. VST is looking for talented content creators, individuals for quality assurance and review, and educators eager to provide insightful feedback. Additionally, in the Hampton Roads area, we need volunteers to assist us at events where we engage the community in STEM learning activities. If you’re passionate about making a difference in STEM education and would like to contribute to our mission, please reach out to us at admin@virtualscienceteachers.org for more information on how you can get involved.