LabRats is all about engagement.
After over 10 years of both academic and field research into how young people learn STEM, physicist and author Shawn Carlson codified the the most effective "best practices" known to cognitive science into a system of instruction called "Engagement Education."
In short, Engagement Education is all about promoting powerful emotional connections between young people and those things that are most essential to creating passionate lifelong learners. The system identifies three spheres of engagement that, when combined, can transform lives.
#1 Self-engagement: Students must become deeply and personally committed to their own journey in education. Self-engagement keeps students on the path to higher learning, no matter what obstacles they face.
#2 Social-engagement: The classroom culture must support the formation of student learning groups where young people come together and are committed to helping each other master STEM. Social engagement creates communities that support and nurture each individual.
#3 Custodial Engagement: Students need strong adult role models in their lives. They need ethical leaders to look up to, to admire, and want to be like both inside the home and outside. When students see their teachers as teacher/superheros they are more likely to take their teachers' advice, to follow their lead, and to discover that they can accomplish almost anything.
While a lot can be done to bring Engagement Education into conventional classrooms (if you'd like to learn how, please drop us a line), the public school environment is too restrictive to allow full implementation. To pull out all the stops requires an independent outside-of-school time program that is free to optimize the learning experience to so that it can have the greatest possible impact.
For more info. about Engagement Education, check out this introductory video
Dr. Shawn Carlson, LabRats' founder and the father of Engagement Education, teaches teachers about how to build engagement in their classrooms.
LabRats was designed to be the first such program that fully implements Engagement Education. And while we can't explain everything we do on this page (we learned an awful lot during our decade of development), here are the three things we focus on the most.
Character: Research proves that the most impactful youth programs focus first on character. Scouting, sports programs, 4-H and others hold both their members and their adult leaders to high ethical standards. That's why we founded LabRats on the code of honor what was inspired by the high ideas of the scientific enterprise itself. We call it the LabRats Credo. The Credo emphasizes the values of honesty, personal integrity, and a powerful commitment to service to others.
Commitment: LabRats ignites passion for STEM in young people by making sure that they consistently experience in their own lives the immediate benefits of embracing an empirical approach to the natural world. While it is important to talk about careers in STEM, the key to creating a classroom culture that nurtures the stalwart commitment that is necessary prepare them for those careers is immediacy. LabRats is designed to make sure our members experience the benefits of a life in STEM every day, both inside our program and outside it.
Community: LabRats meetings are structured to promote a sense of belonging to a vital and nurturing community of liked-minded peers who come together to fulfill a higher purpose of preparing each other to be able to one day do great things in the world. Community is what keeps students coming back when experience hard times in their lives. Members draw strength from and give strength to each other to help get them through hard times in their lives.
Check out our program:
LabRats Junior Explorers Age 8 - 10
LabRats Senior Explorers Age 11 - 18
Instructors: Click this button if you think you have what it takes to be a paid instructor for the LabRats program.