More than 650 local schools set up 1,141 innovation laboratories by the end of last year, the Shanghai Education Commission said yesterday.
About 40 percent of all primary schools, 55 percent of middle schools and 83 percent of high schools now have such labs, figures showed.
At Shanghai No.3 Girls Middle School, students are delighted with their new lab, where they like to grow plants.
"We were excited when we went into the lab for the first time as we all wore white gowns like scientists" said Song Chuqiao, an eighth grader. Song added she and her classmates rush to the lab whenever they can to see whether their plants have grown new leaves or flowers.
"We are allowed to do research according to our own interests," she said. "There are no standard answers."
At the High School Affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University, there are now 15 innovation labs, according to headmaster Xu Xiangdong.
Its STEM program, which teaches science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an interdisciplinary and applied approach, has helped to make the labs the most popular place at the school, Xu added.