Public Lab Wiki documentation

Public Lab for Educators

4 | 8 | | #9894

« Back to Education

The Public Lab site is a social research sharing website for non-professional and professional scientists alike.

It's like an online lab notebook where students can:

  • post their work
  • get feedback from peers and other Public Lab members
  • create a profile and recieve attribution for your contributions
  • participate in open source collaboration

Get started

To start using, ask each of your students to sign up and create a profile. (read on for privacy considerations and protective tactics)

Watch a brief video about how to post a research note, and read about research note posting here.

Consider the privacy of minors

This section is an extension of written with minors in mind.

Some schools have internet access policies that can be compatible with with (some of ) the following steps:

  • Do not use your real name as your username
  • Do not use your first and last name together anywhere on the site
  • Do not use any of your existing social media handles as your username
  • Do not link back to your personal social media
  • Do not share your gender; reduce/eliminate the use of gendered pronouns in your writing
  • Do not share individually identifying photos of yourself on your profile page (photos of hands are OK, photos of faces are not)
  • Do not share photos of your group in a research note in which individual faces are identifiable (consider adding friendly emojis or blur!)
  • To protect the location privacy of minors while mapping and capturing/sharing geographic data, while posting research notes about your mapping activity or stitching images into maps in, do not share photos in which individuals are identifiable, such as those taken close to the ground while launching or catching the camera.
  • Do not share your location or address on your profile page
  • Do not publicly post your contact info (email, phone, etc)
  • Do not share personal health information

Additional options

Teachers / Guardians / Parents may consider these additional options for how minors interact with, as well as join the ongoing conversation about privacy and minors at :

  • Teachers / Guardians / Parents could become moderators on the site in order to more closely monitor for the unintentional disclosure of personally identifying information by their students / children while sharing their work on Please email moderators(a) to explore this option.
  • Not allowing students / minors to create accounts at all
  • Only allowing students / minors older than 14 years of age to create accounts
  • Creating teacher / guardian / parent-managed accounts on behalf of one, some, or all students
  • Creating group accounts for students/minors to share. Example: “Team Dolphin”

Public Lab Resources for Teachers:

Public Lab has a number of resources for teachers.

There are a series of well documented physical science lessons published on this site as wiki pages.
- The first lesson is called "Wetlands, water and oil", and it can be found here.
- The second lesson, called "More than meets the eye" discusses visible and infrared light. It is found here.
- The third lesson is called "Photography in a new light". It is found here.
- The fourth lesson is called "Environmental Monitoring" and it can be found here.


Here are some additional activities particularly suited for use in the classroom:

Purpose Category Status Author Time Difficulty Replications
Flame testing metal salts observe - @kgradow1 3h medium 0 replications: Try it »
Assembling the Public Lab Lego Spectrometer - - @warren - - 1 replications: Try it »
Tracking Plant Health Using Visible and Infrared Light -- Initial Experiences at an Arts High School - - @Travis - - 0 replications: Try it »
DIY Science Lesson with the Coqui - - @pdhixenbaugh - - 0 replications: Try it »
Building miniature kites at a family science night build - @SuziT9 - - 0 replications: Try it »
Prototyping a kite for kids build - @oscarbrett 3h easy 0 replications: Try it »
Using the Spectroscope for Analysis of Concentration (Beer's Law) test-limits - @straylight 3h medium 0 replications: Try it »
Water Quality Testing At Turkey Creek - - @Delaney - - 0 replications: Try it »
Bean Cam observe - @cfastie 1d medium 0 replications: Try it »
Lycopene - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Aerial Mapping Projects in Environmental Science at The Thacher School - - @thacherenvisci - - 0 replications: Try it »
Scan and compare different gases (in discharge tubes, like neon) using a DIY spectrometer - - @warren - - 27 replications: Try it »
Hand-crank powered flashlights - - @pazb - - 0 replications: Try it »
Spectrometer with Test Tube Holder (Grade 7 Science Fair) - - @RoRo - - 0 replications: Try it »
Building Miniature Kites - - @mimiss - - 0 replications: Try it »
Workshop VIII: What will we do to conduct our study? - - @mimiss - - 0 replications: Try it »
See the Fraunhofer absorption lines in sunlight verify draft @warren 1h easy 4 replications: Try it »
Introduction to Spectrometry (& Building a Spectrometer!) Lesson - - @mimiss - - 0 replications: Try it »
How do communities respond to environmental problems? (Lesson Plan) - - @mimiss - - 0 replications: Try it »
Workshop III: How Have Other Communities Tackled This Problem? - - @mimiss - - 0 replications: Try it »
Workshop VII: How will we study our environmental problem? - - @mimiss - - 0 replications: Try it »
Creating a Box Plot to Identify Potential Outliers Using CODAP - - @mimiss - - 0 replications: Try it »
Choosing an Environmental Monitoring Method - - @stevie - - 0 replications: Try it »
BabyLegs in the classroom - - @maxliboiron - - 0 replications: Try it »
What Factors Influence Our Environmental Problem? (Lesson Plan) - - @mimiss - - 0 replications: Try it »
Workshop IV: What do we know, and what do we want to learn? - - @mimiss - - 0 replications: Try it »
Workshop V: How do we study an environmental issue? - - @mimiss - - 0 replications: Try it »
Workshop VI: How can an environmental study effect change? - - @mimiss - - 0 replications: Try it »
Show more

Add an activity  or request an activity guide you don't see listed

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.

Posting assignments on

You're welcome to post your own assignments to with a "Post a Response" button, and have student's responses collected in your post:

Here are some examples:

Title Author Updated Likes Comments
Call for Outreachy 2020 proposals! @liz 4 months ago 7
Unearthing PVD Map Content @liz 4 months ago 0
Post your spectra from a classroom spectrometry experiment @warren over 1 year ago 1
Final posts for Google Summer of Code @liz almost 3 years ago 1
Aerial Mapping Projects in Environmental Science at The Thacher School @thacherenvisci about 3 years ago 0
Assignment: spectrometry at NAFCS @liz over 3 years ago 0
Wrapping up Google Summer of Code 2016! @warren almost 4 years ago 2
Definition of User Streaks @ananyo2012 about 4 years ago 0
Google Summer of Code 2016: draft proposals @warren over 4 years ago 0
Assignment: reflections on sensor journalism @kanarinka over 4 years ago 0
Holiday Beverage Whodunit @cfastie over 5 years ago 6
Show more

Looking for more information?

Check out the questions and answers below. If you don't see what you're looking for, ask a question of your own so our community can lend a hand.

Ask a question  or help answer future questions on this topic