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5 Engaging Ways to Teach Biosafety that Keep Students Safe

Anjaney Kothari
April 28, 2023

From handling pathogenic microorganisms for laboratory research to processing blood samples for clinical studies, biomedical research presents myriad safety hazards. To ensure personnel safety against such hazards, research facilities house various contamination control areas and personal protective equipment (PPE).

All new student researchers mandatorily undergo biosafety training on the proper use of safety controls before they can begin. Even experienced scientists need a refresher from time to time. Typically, research institutions conduct online classes to communicate the principles and protocols of biosafety to established or aspiring researchers. But are presentations and webinars enough to effectively teach the fundamentals of biosafety? Here, we list five engaging ways to teach biosafety so student researchers can effectively learn and remember these life-saving principles.

1. Engage Students with Interactive Models

There is no substitute to hands-on training in research, but interactive models that provide a realistic experience come pretty close. Since biosafety training is a prerequisite to conducting biomedical research, hands-on training is not a feasible option. Meanwhile, interactive models can help students learn about biosafety measures in a manner more reliable than watching videos or webinars.

For example, Labster’s interactive biosafety simulation allows the students to conduct biological experiments in a virtual lab setting. In our simulation, students can navigate a biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory, which presents the highest level of biohazards. The students will learn about the construction and proper use of biosafety cabinets and PPE while handling a dangerous microorganism.

Virtual lab showing a biosafety lab setup with a person in a biohazard suit.

2. Make the Topic Fun with Games and Activities

If a teaching method does not arouse interest, students will be unable to retain the subject matter. And retention of information is critical when the subject matter is biosafety. One way to arouse students’ interest is by encouraging them to participate in fun games and activities.

In Labster’s biosafety simulation, for example, students can learn about biosafety while applying it in a thrilling, video game-like scenario. Here, students step into the shoes of a scientist tackling a hypothetical BSL-3 bioterrorism agent. As the students identify the pathogen, they will have to utilize the different biosafety features of a BSL-3 laboratory.

Person in biohzard suit in a virtual lab.
Discover Labster's Biosafety virtual lab today!

3. Infuse Technology into Lessons

Technologies like animation, simulation and augmented reality (AR) are game-changers in the field of education. Biosafety training administrators, in particular, have a lot to benefit from such technologies because:

·       They can familiarize the students with the various biohazards and protective measures in the laboratory an immersive manner

·       They do not have to worry about the risky errors that students may make during a first-time hands-on experience.

For example, Labster’s biosafety simulation makes the most of the latest technology to offer a thorough biosafety training experience to students. In under 50 minutes, students understand and use microbiological safety cabinets, fumigation, and other measures in the simulation’s virtual laboratory.

4. Inspire Students Through Career Exploration

Students can learn scientific concepts more quickly if they understand exactly which type of professionals need to apply them. This makes the students appreciate the subject matter and respect the professions that depend on it.

Inform your students that virologists and immunologists studying viruses to develop vaccines protect themselves from infection by applying biosafety principles. Talk about how Employee Health and Safety Services (EHSS) is an indispensable department in all major research universities. EHSS officers must first know biosafety principles themselves to ensure that researchers in their university comply with these principles. Such careers literally save lives, and knowing this can inspire the students to learn about biosafety.

5. Connect Topic to Real-World Applications

Grounding scientific concepts in real-world applications and scenarios can be both fascinating and eye-opening for students. Fortunately, biosafety is so crucial a concept that its real-world applications are easily comprehensible.

For example, tell your students how non-compliance with biosafety principles in a BSL-3 laboratory could cause a catastrophic infectious outbreak. Inform them about how not using a biosafety cabinet to culture pathogenic microorganisms can have lethal consequences. Impress upon them that these lethal consequences are not only for the researcher but also for those in the vicinity.

Final thoughts

Effective biosafety training is essential so that students can protect themselves from hazardous biological entities while conducting impactful biological research. The teaching methods that we have discussed here make biosafety training exciting and memorable, so that students can recall and apply its principles without fail.

If you are an educator looking for fun and engaging methods to teach biosafety to your students, try out Labster’s biosafety simulation.

Try our free 30-day All Access Educator's Pass today and play the Biosafety simulation alongside 300+ other virtual labs!
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