UL Xplorlabs: Engaging the Next Generation of Real-World Problem Solvers Through Safety Science Education

UL Xplorlabs inspires students via an innovative digital learning platform.
Three secondary school students work on an engineering project.

An innovative engineering and science platform

UL Xplorlabs is a free, innovative digital platform that encourages a new generation of problem solvers to find solutions to real-world engineering challenges. The platform bridges the gap between the classroom and real-world engineering problems and inspires critical thinking and innovative applications of STEM concepts.

Xplorlabs encourages students to ask why a phenomenon happens and how they can solve the problem. The Xplorlabs experience connects teachers and students with practicing Underwriters Laboratories engineers, scientists, chemists and researchers who engage in the process of asking scientific questions every day. 

There are three Xplorlabs modules:

  • Extraction to E-waste: Students follow the supply chain of the lithium-ion battery in a mobile phone.
  • Fire Forensics: Students practice using claims, evidence, and commentary in a forensic burn scene analysis after learning about the dynamics of fire.
  • Portable Electrical Power: Students learn about the role of testing and failure in an exploration of lithium-ion batteries and thermal runaway in hoverboards.

The UL Xplorlabs homepage can be accessed here.

A flexible and complementary enhancement to traditional classroom learning

Adaptable learning solutions for educators and students can be easily incorporated into existing curricula and serve as a springboard for deeper understanding, curiosity and robust classroom discussion. The modules are designed to be self-led, with the educator facilitating conversation, or can be adapted for educator-led programming.

“For a program like this to be valuable to teachers, it must not only be informed by Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), but also allow students to solve real world problems with creative solutions, not prescribed results,” says Kelly Keena, Ph.D., Director of Education at Underwriters Laboratories. “Xplorlabs introduces new and exciting STEM career paths for students by connecting to the work happening at UL.”

UL Xplorlabs is a flexible complement to middle school science, technology and engineering curricula.  At the heart of STEM is problem-solving and processing skills that apply to everything students will do for the rest of their lives. Xplorlabs helps teachers engage young minds in a way that cultivates a passion for inquiry as well as generates excitement for problem solving.

“Gone are the days of memorizing boring facts! When learning is relevant and contextualized in a real-world setting students are more engaged,” says Sally Creel, Ph.D., STEM and Innovation Supervisor at Cobb County Schools in Georgia.

“We believe by using the engineering process to examine questions of safety, security and sustainability we can equip the next generation of problem-solvers to develop innovations that will help keep the world safe. UL Xplorlabs will serve as that learning tool for inspired thinkers who will be solving problems that don’t yet exist and working on scientific endeavors that haven’t even been thought of,” said Cara Gizzi, Vice President of Education and Outreach at Underwriters Laboratories.

 

Fast Facts

  • The online platform engages students ages 9–14 with content-rich experiential elements including videos, interactive lessons, virtual tests, hands-on experiments and challenges.
  • Middle school teachers and students watch our engineers and scientists as they demonstrate solutions to relevant, real-world engineering challenges.
  • Research-based and teacher-tested, all content aligns with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
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