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.
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).
UL Xplorlabs Wraps Up Second Year of Teacher Ambassadors Program
UL Xplorlabs resources link safety science research with foundational STEM concepts. These resources – including comprehensive modules and lab activities – are designed to bring the expertise of Underwriters Laboratories’ eminent scientists and researchers to a broader audience.
UL Xplorlabs Partners with Harvard's LabXchange
In October 2020, UL Xplorlabs published the team’s first collaboration with Harvard’s LabXchange platform. LabXchange is a free online learning platform by Harvard University that curates digital STEM educational resources from the world’s leading science organizations.
Following a Phone Battery from Creation to Destruction
In this UL Xplorlabs module, students follow a phone battery on its supply chain journey from resource extraction to device disposal. As they begin to understand the supply chain complexities, they are immersed in a real-world study, collaborating to devise solutions to minimize e-waste.
Reading the Fire and Building a Claim After Investigation
The UL Xplorlabs module 'Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence' provides students with an understanding of fire, fire dynamics and fire behavior, enabling them to read a fire scene and build a claim for a fire's location of origin and cause.
Flames Are Fascinating, and Scary. Paris Exhibit Shows Humankind's History of Interacting with Fire
Throughout history, we have worked to control fire. With connotations not just of warmth, vitality, creation, progress, and technology, but also of danger and destruction. Learn more about the exhibit at the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie (City of Science and Industry) Museum in Paris.