5 Creative Ways to Teach Introductory Lab Without Lecturing

Akanksha Saxena

When you enter the class with a fresh batch of students, usually there’s a pertinent question of where and how to begin!

As students embark on an exhilarating journey through the captivating world of biological laboratories, it becomes important that we help them understand the basic code to practice in a lab. Equipping them with state-of-the-art tools like microscopes, pipettes, centrifuges, and incubators can be quite challenging at first as each lab tool, instrument, and equipment is peculiar in its handling. Since all of these components offer a gateway to the exploration phase of a research student’s life, we must fuel their learning journey with correct methodologies that drive their scientific progress.

As you familiarize them with the basic lab setup, some questions need to be answered. To facilitate this yearly task for you with each fresh batch of students, we have compiled 5 creative ways to welcome students with a sense of learning and belonging in the biological labs.

1. Use Interactive Models and Simulations

Models and simulations can be utilized to explain basic and introductory biological lab etiquette effectively. Since imparting lab skills to new learners is a daunting task in the absence of properly laid down laboratories, we recommend educators make full use of virtual labs like the Introductory Lab Simulation by Labster to facilitate easy visualization of lab infrastructure and utilities in a controlled virtual environment. 

Since research has shown that interactive models are “good at replicating real-world scenarios”, these tools provide an opportunity for students to explore and gain hands-on experience with different types of lab equipment and instruments (like microscopes, pipettes, centrifuges) that is otherwise not possible due to the lack of physical equipment.

2. Learning with Games and Activities

You can also plan on incorporating games and interactive activities to gather more engagement from students in the introductory lab classes. By tapping into the innate curiosity and competitiveness of learners, virtual games aid in the creation of a dynamic and stimulating learning environment. (1) As students acquire lab skills in a gamified format, they are more likely to actively participate and learn as they play! This heightened interest leads to increased motivation, encouraging students to explore the various facets of biological labs with enthusiasm. Some of the other expected outcomes are:  

  • Hands-on Experience
  • Reinforcement of Lab Practices and Ethics
  • Application of Scientific Methods
  • Emphasis on Lab Safety
  • Collaborative Learning
Preview of Introductory Lab (Screenshot1) simulation.
Discover Labster's Introductory Lab virtual lab today!

3. Infusing Technology into Study Plans

The integration of technology when introducing students to the basic lab setups presents a multitude of opportunities to elucidate concepts related to equipment, tools, practices, instruments, ethics, lab behavior, scientific methods, lab code, and lab safety. You can leverage cutting-edge technological advancements to revolutionize the learning experience of your students. Some ways to do this are: 

  • Interactive Virtual Labs: Students can explore and work with highly advanced lab equipment and instruments even with the dearth of lab funds.
  • Augmented Reality (AR): Students can visualize molecular structures, cellular processes, and lab demonstrations in a three-dimensional and interactive manner.

4. Inspiring Learners by Connecting to Career Prospects

By comprehensively listing the vast array of career options and opportunities that stem from a solid foundation in biological lab handling and the acquisition of lab skill sets, students can be motivated to engage more in the subject as you deliver. When students will be able to envision themselves solving real-world issues, they will automatically learn the topic with greater enthusiasm and determination!

Some career opportunities that mandatorily expect one to be well-versed in basic labs are:

  • Research Scientist
  • Medical Laboratory Technologist
  • Biomedical Engineer
  • Bioinformatics Specialist

5. Connecting the Topic to Real-World Applications

Educators can also rely on the best of methods; connecting the dots between theory and real-world applications of introductory biological labs. By discussing the practical relevance of the skills acquired in the lab setups, students can be made aware of the fascinating ways in which biological labs contribute to various aspects of our lives and the broader scientific community.

You can plan on illustrating the medical breakthroughs and how scientists make groundbreaking discoveries in biological labs to advance healthcare and improve the quality of life. Labster’s Introductory Lab Simulation connects the topic to real-world applications by providing a virtual laboratory experience. As students work in the virtual lab, they can learn about blood transfusions and different blood type groups while also applying their knowledge to identify the patient’s blood group.

Preview of Introductory Lab (Screenshot2) simulation.

Final thoughts

Introductory labs serve as the foundation for budding scientists, nurturing their curiosity and honing essential skills. To effectively teach the next generation of students, educators must embrace new ways of instruction. Incorporating ethical considerations and lab safety throughout the curriculum ensures responsible scientific practices. 


  1. Lateef, F. (2010). Simulation-based learning: Just like the real thing. Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock, 3(4), 348. 
  2. Dichev, C., Dicheva, D., Angelova, G., & Agre, G. (2014). From gamification to gameful design and gameful experience in learning. Cybernetics and information technologies, 14(4), 80-100.
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