Welcome to LabRats!
The LabRats Science Education Program is a remarkable and highly successful new approach to inspiring young people to love learning about science and technology. Please review this photo gallery (right arrow) to discover why...
Founder, Shawn Carlson, Ph.D.
After distinguishing himself by winning a MacArthur Fellowship for developing highly effective approaches to STEM education, physicist and nationally-known science writer Shawn Carlson ( "Dr. Shawn") founded LabRats to do what he could to solve the science literacy crisis in America. LabRats is based on his system of "Engagement Education" which builds powerful emotional connections between students and the things that are most essential for creating life-long learners.
LabRats Core Values
We engage young people by appealing to what's best in all of us...Our desire to improve ourselves, to help our fellows, and to make the world a better place. The LabRats Credo states the core values on which our program is founded.
What's So Great About Science?
LabRats teaches empirical habits of mind that empower our members to make decisions based on reason, self-skepticism, and evidence. Our slogan puts the benefits of the scientific method in plain language. "Doing science is all about making sure you're not fooling yourself." So clearly, if you don't use the scientific method you are more likely to fool yourself.
Hands On Everything...
LabRats puts real science into the hands and minds of our members. Here, students are getting their hands on rare and authentic museum-quality stone tools from the Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal peoples. Some of these tools are more than half a million years old.
Events and Challenges
LabRats inspires young people to develop adaptive expertise in STEM in part by sponsoring competitions that engage teams of like-minded students to work together on common goals. Here, a team of students is preparing to launch a pumpkin downrange in our annual "Game of Throws" challenge in San Diego, California.
The "Atom Splitters" Engaged
LabRats "Synergies" are organized into teams, like Boy Scout Troops are organized into patrols. These teams have their own names, identities, and leadership that are chosen by the members themselves. Here, the "Atom Splitters" are working together on a challenge next to two other teams (not shown)--the "Radioactive Cows" and the "Strange Quarks."
Stellar STEM in Two Age Divisions
LabRats Young Explorers, shown here, engages kids age 8 through 10 to explore the universe around them. The LabRats Senior Explorers program empowers young people age 11 to 18 to change the world.
Real Tools for Real Science
LabRats isn't baby sitting. Members do real science. We teach, "an education in STEM is nothing less than the power to transform the entire world with a single idea." It is our mission in life to put that power into the hands of every student who is willing to work hard enough to take it.
LabRats Young Explorers In Action
While we're serious about science, we are also serious about fun. We know that since students in after school programs can vote with their feet, it is essential that each of our members leaves every meeting feeling better about themselves and their community than they did when they came in. This picture shows what happens when the photographer shouts "express yourself" before snapping a group photo.
LabRats explore most of the natural sciences, both inside and outside the classroom. Weekend field trips help our members learn about the living world where they can explore ecology, geology, oceanology, and other fields of science that help us manage the world around us, and understand how we affect that world ourselves.
LabRats gain social status within the organization only through actual accomplishment. Members earn merit badges to demonstrate genuine competency. As they advance through the program, members must work with experts outside of LabRats on authentic research problems. Members that gain expertise become their Synergys' go-to experts in that field. They become mentors for younger LabRats.
Rank-Based Social Structure
Members grow in social status by advancing through a series of seven ranks that mark a LabRat's intellectual growth as well as their personal commitment to the high ideals of the program. As students advance, they must demonstrate ever greater levels of commitment to personal growth and service to others.
To achieve the highest rank... that of Discoverer... a member must make an original discovery that is suitable for publication in a recognized peer-reviewed journal. Fortunately, the universe is a big place. By the time our members are approaching the rank of Discoverer they are quite ready to discover and describe some part of the natural world that has never before been published.
The Ultimate Science Adventure
Research shows that successful adults nearly always had three things going for them when they were young--the CAPACITY to learn new things, the COMMITMENT to do the hard work necessary to accomplish their goals, and a supportive COMMUNITY of ethical adults to serve as role models. LabRats is a place where young people will find all three.
Experience LabRats STEM Education
A Bit of Background
LabRats is an outside of school-time program that borrows the best social elements of Scouting (and sports and ROTC programs as well) to create an education program based on character development, leadership training, and inspiring a passion for community service. Only instead of teaching campfires and square knots, LabRats does this by engaging young people in the most comprehensive hands-on science program ever developed.
Like the Boy Scouts, LabRats has two divisions for young people of different ages. LabRats Young Explorers introduces kids 8-10 years to a rich STEM program that lays a thorough foundation. The LabRats Senior Explorers program, for young people aged 11 - 18, helps students excel in all STEM subjects. Many Senior Explorers will original discoveries or inventions by the time they complete the program.
Members typically meet once per week for between 60 and 90 minutes where they are coached by a professional educator who is certified in the LabRats system of instruction. LabRats is ideal for character development and academic enrichment for kids in every type of school. Homeschool families typically meet during the day, while kids who attend traditional schools typically meet in the late afternoons and early evenings.
WHAT IS LABRATS?
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