Can Science Virtual Labs Keep Students Engaged During Summer Break?

Tue, May 21, 2024 at 9:25AM

Can Science Virtual Labs Keep Students Engaged During Summer Break?

At Mentis Sciences, we understand the critical importance of keeping students engaged in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) year-round! With summer break approaching, we’re facing a unique challenge. Taking a long break from formal schooling can lead to a phenomenon so common that it has garnered its own terminology: "summer slide" or "summer learning loss."

Students may lose academic progress during these long summer months – and, unfortunately, skills like math and science can be particularly susceptible to this backsliding. We hope to help ensure students return to school feeling prepared. But, even more so, we aim to help them foster a lifelong love of learning and scientific curiosity that stands the test of time.

One solution that Mentis Sciences has developed is the Mentis Sciences Engineering Toolkit (MSET). This comprehensive science virtual lab platform aims to keep students engaging actively and in a hands-on manner with STEM concepts. This is done through experimentation and inquiry-based learning. To learn more about how the MSET can help students stay engaged with STEM during the summer months outside the classroom, read on!

The Problem of Summer Learning Loss

This phenomenon of summer slide has been researched over the years, such as in a study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Here, students (and especially low-income students) were affected with a loss of lost approximately two months' worth of math computational skills during summer vacation. Because of this, students faced gaps in their understanding and progress at the top of a new school year, struggling to catch up. Students with access to enrichment opportunities during the summer months, however, were more likely to improve or maintain those crucial educational skills. So, what does this mean for STEM fields?

The Importance of Keeping Students Engaged with STEM Tools

Fostering a love of STEM at a young age can have a profound impact on a student's future academic and career paths. Mentis Sciences hopes to inspire a new generation of scientists, engineers, and innovators – one that can help address the world’s many challenges in years to come. To help these future STEM professionals excel in their academic careers from an early age, we aim to connect students to STEM tools that help engage, prevent summer slide, and allow them to return to school with honed skills, ready to keep learning more. This means more valuable instructional time spent addressing advanced and exciting concepts – instead of re-learning forgotten material better suited to earlier academic years.

The Benefits of Science Virtual Labs

The Mentis Sciences Engineering Toolkit (MSET) is a science virtual lab tool offering a powerful solution to the problem of summer learning loss. Highlighting the impact of interactive, inquiry-based learning experiences, these STEM tools allow students to conduct experiments, analyze data, and draw conclusions in a hands-on manner. All the better, this doesn’t have to take place in the classroom! Students can utilize the MSET from home – or any location with an internet connection.

Beyond this level of convenience, one other key advantage provided by the MSET is the ability to bring abstract concepts to life. Simulations and tests allow students to break down complex topics, making them accessible and engaging for learners of all ages.

The MSET covers a wide array of experiments spanning materials testing, physics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and simple machines. While exploring all these STEM principles, students will feel empowered to take an active role in learning and discovery. This means increased skills in critical thinking, problem solving, and analytics.

Fostering a Love of Lifelong Learning

The overarching goal of the MSET – and STEM tools for learners in general – is to cultivate a love for continuous learning and discovery. In encouraging scientific exploration from a young age, students will adapt, learn, and think critically in a rapidly evolving world. Beyond just preventing summer learning loss and maintaining academic skills, engagement with STEM learning can help prepare students for success in any field.

As students work to formulate hypotheses, conduct experiments, and draw their own conclusions, they take ownership of the learning process – which means a deeper understanding of scientific concepts than found with reading or memorizing textbook information. This inquiry-based learning helps students succeed through active engagement and experimentation, rather than passive reception of information.

Bridging the Gap Between School and Real-World Applications

Students often face a challenge when it comes to bridging the gap between theoretical STEM concepts and how they apply in the real world. The MSET stands to do exactly this – providing excellent simulations to mimic real-world scenarios and phenomena for students to understand. For example, the principles of engineering design and material selection can come to life as students explore the behavior of various materials hands-on.

With this focus on real-world applications, the MSET encourages students to foster an appreciation for the practical implications of STEM fields. This might spark greater interest in the pursuit of STEM-focused careers and industries – where tomorrow’s leaders will drive innovation forward.


So, how will we overcome the challenge of summer learning loss to truly inspire the next generation of STEM leaders? We believe that MSET offers a powerful solution by empowering students to actively construct their own knowledge. We’re committed to connecting students with STEM tools that ignite a passion for exploration and discovery, foster critical thinking, and create opportunities for problem-solving. As we connect classroom discussion and ideas to the concrete realm of the real world, we hope students grow to feel equipped with the skills and mindset necessary to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

Educators, parents, and advocates for STEM education share a collective responsibility to provide students with enriching opportunities for growth – both during school and all year long. With the power provided through science virtual lab tools and the strengths of technology, we’re here to help students stay on track for STEM success through their full academic careers and lives.

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