All About Labster's Short Simulations

Alyson Aiello

We know how important it is for instructors to have flexibility when it comes to science resources for the classroom. While lengthier virtual lab simulations meet the needs of some, others are seeking bite-sized virtual lab simulations to incorporate into their curricula. That’s where our short simulations come in. At Labster, we offer more than 50 lab simulations that can be completed in less than 25 minutes. 

Why use short virtual lab simulations?

Labster’s full-length virtual lab simulations are typically 45-50 minutes long and cover multiple processes and theories. Short simulations, or “focus simulations” which run 5-25 minutes long, target one specific concept of the original lab. For example, Cellular Respiration involves a number of processes, making our complete lab lesson 32 minutes. However, instructors might only need to teach one or two of the processes in their course, such as the electron transport chain, and that’s where our short simulations are utilized.

“Our goal at Labster is to provide a full menu of science resources that instructors can mix-and-match to suit the needs of their students. Our short simulations help us achieve that goal.” - Mark Fuller, Product Marketing Director

In addition to short simulations that isolate concepts from lengthier simulations, we are now producing many new short simulations with fresh content that allow instructors to mix-and-match resources based on their unique needs.


Sasha Mathrani, a product marketing manager at Labster, says short simulations allow instructors to provide targeted, focused labs while maintaining the valuable components of Labster’s longer simulations, such as our engaging storylines and gamification and quiz questions.

“Short simulations can fit more easily into classes,” Mathrani says. “They can be a starter at the beginning of class or a quick homework or refresher. This option gives teachers more agency in deciding what their students need. They have the freedom to assign just the piece they need.”

Short simulations in the classroom

Since launching our short simulations, we’ve found that virtual lab adoption is strong and the popularity scores for our short simulations rank among our highest.

At the higher education level, our short simulation called Gram Stain: How stains and counterstains work, has quickly become a student and instructor favorite. This short simulation at just 13 minutes, allows students to more easily understand the visual difference between positive and negative gram cells, which can be difficult for students to determine in the wet lab, even with the best equipment.

Dr. Eddy van Hunnik of Alamance Community College, a bioscience and biotechnology instructor, says this simulation helped his students to understand the steps of gram staining before they had taken their in-person lab. “The simulation was useful for them to see the differences between gram positive and negative straight away when looking through the microscope.”

Explore our newest short simulations.

Dr. Victoria Allen-Baume, an instructor at University College Cork, told our Science Online (SO): Connected conference attendees that the shorter simulations are popular among her students. “The new, shorter simulations have proved really popular in just reminding people of techniques. If there's something that they just need a quick refresher on, those little short, bite-sized [virtual labs] have proved very popular with our students.”

At the high school level, short simulations are valued for their ability to engage students and hold their attention on a targeted topic, and they’re also more easily integrated into classwork where in-person sessions are shorter than some of the longer virtual labs. AP teachers use short simulations for their advanced students as a graded opportunity or extra credit.

In summary, Labster’s short virtual lab simulations have three key benefits:

  • Flexible learning resource that can be incorporated into any curriculum 
  • High-quality, targeted science content that provides a comprehensive lab experience
  • Trusted Labster components including engaging storylines and game-based elements to engage students

How to access short simulations for your classroom

Browse our growing library of more than 300 virtual lab simulations, including 50+ short simulations, for topics that are most relevant to your science curriculum–across biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, anatomy and physiology, and more. Then, sign up for a product demo and allow us to introduce you to the engaging storylines, highly-quality science content, and ease of use you’ll enjoy with Labster virtual lab simulations.

Already a Labster customer? Filter the Course Catalog by duration to easily find short simulations.

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