A student examines DNA in the Science Adventure Lab.

A student examines DNA in the Science Adventure Lab.

Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Science Adventure Lab has been inspiring future scientists at schools across Washington state since 2009. When the 45-foot mobile lab rolls onto campus, students in grades 4 through 12 put on safety aprons and gloves and perform science experiments using real laboratory and medical equipment. While learning about nutrition, infectious diseases and the respiratory system, students begin to imagine career possibilities in health science.

“It’s amazing to watch their eyes light up when they first discover how fun and exciting science can be,” said Dr. Rebecca Howsmon, lead instructor on the Science Adventure Lab. “Unfortunately, we can’t be everywhere all of the time, so we decided to make our curriculum available online.”

The Science Adventure Lab has launched a new website designed to provide innovative, educational experiences that ignite new passions for science and enhance science education in schools and at home. The new site features links to online games like Guts and Bolts – which allows users to progress through 12 interactive levels while learning about the interplay of human body systems – and Genome Cache, an app that allows users to explore the human genome through clues, fun facts and trivia questions. There are also animated videos created by the Science Adventure Lab team that introduce students to science concepts and vocabulary.

Families can learn about science together by watching videos and playing games on the new Science Adventure Lab website.

Families can learn about science together by watching videos and playing games on the new Science Adventure Lab website.

“Teachers can use the website to enhance their existing curriculum and parents can use it as an extension of the classroom, so their children can continue learning at home,” Howsmon said.

Students who visit the site can take a virtual tour of the laboratories at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Online videos introduce them to research institute scientists who describe how they became interested in science and how their research is helping to improve people’s lives.

The Science Adventure Lab website also provides information to help students get involved in the scientific community by participating in science fairs and competitions and attending science events in their own neighborhoods.

Funding for the Science Adventure Lab website comes from a National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award.

“We want to teach students that science is all around them and that they can help people and save lives if they choose a career as a research scientist,” Howsmon said. “I hope one day to see these kids again as Seattle Children’s employees!”

The Science Adventure Lab is fully booked for visits in the 2014–2015 school year.

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