How to Use Labster In-Person: Virtual Labs Beyond the Pandemic

Ginelle Testa

In the face of the unprecedented global pandemic, educational institutions were compelled to reimagine and redesign their teaching methodologies. Virtual science simulations emerged as critical components of distance learning, providing learners with immersive, hands-on experiences remotely.

Labster virtual labs effectively bridged the gap between traditional lab work and remote learning. Yet, as we shift towards a post-pandemic world, some educators question the future relevance of these virtual tools. 

Here, we explore why Labster's virtual labs remain a valuable tool beyond the pandemic. We asked instructors in our Community Campus, a platform for science educators, “What would you tell an educator who thought virtual labs and science simulations were just for use during virtual learning and the pandemic?”

Here are the responses we got.

Labster can be used for the following reasons:

  • Pre-lab Preparation
  • Cost-Efficient Simulation of Expensive Equipment
  • Reinforcement of Concepts
  • A Solution for Limited Space
  • Enhanced Student Engagement
  • Safety Assurance
  • Curriculum Augmentation
  • Replication of Complex Scenarios

Benefits of Labster as a Post-Pandemic Tool

Pre-lab Preparation

Labster provides an ideal tool for pre-lab preparation. Students can familiarize themselves with protocols, procedures, and theoretical backgrounds before stepping into the physical lab. This ensures that the learners are confident and well-prepared, thus making the in-person lab experience more productive and effective.

“Virtual labs are a great prelab tool which allows students to see an experiment and understand the concepts before they actually do the experiment hands-on.”

Cost-Efficient Simulation of Expensive Equipment

Traditionally, access to high-cost, cutting-edge equipment can be a constraint for many institutions. However, Labster's virtual labs provide simulated experiences of using such equipment, enabling students to gain exposure without the accompanying financial burden.

“A simple cost benefit analysis will easily convince any purchasing department that Labster is a bargain compared to traditional consumable lab components.”

Virtual lab example - Polymerase Chain Reaction 

In the PCR simulation, students will be thrown right into a crime scene where a murder has taken place. After investigating the crime scene, students’ first task is to collect blood samples in the hope that the murderer has left traces of their DNA.

A PCR machine in a virtual lab.

Reinforcement of Concepts

Labster's virtual labs reinforce scientific concepts taught in the classroom by providing a hands-on, practical perspective. This enhancement aids in deepening students' understanding and strengthening their grasp of otherwise complex scientific concepts. This is done through contextualized storylines that take students on a journey through the experiment. 

A Solution for Limited Space

Physical labs often have limited capacity due to space constraints and class sizes. Labster helps overcome this limitation by providing virtual lab experiences that can be accessed anytime and anywhere, breaking down the walls of the traditional lab setup.

“We have a large non-majors biology course (average of 400-450 students/semester) with just one dedicated lab room. We use an offset schedule where one group of labs does an e-lab the same week that a second lab group has a face-to-face lab.”

Enhanced Student Engagement

Labster's engaging and interactive design keeps students interested and motivated. Our platform's gamified approach transforms science learning from a potentially daunting task into an exciting and enjoyable experience.

Virtual lab example - Skeletal System: Solve a Missing Person Case

In this simulation, students will help a detective solve a missing person case by analyzing human bones that were discovered in a forest. They’ll begin their investigation by learning about the skeletal system and the different types of bones. Then explore the internal anatomy of a bone to learn about compact and spongy bone. Over the course of the investigation, they’ll gather clues that will help them identify the unfortunate victim. Can their expertise help crack the case?

Types of bones - long bones, short bones, flat bones, and irregular bones in a virtual lab.

Safety Assurance

Labster's virtual labs offer a safe environment for students to experiment and learn. They can make mistakes, learn from them, and understand the consequences without any physical risk or harm.

Curriculum Augmentation

Labster serves as a valuable adjunct to traditional teaching methods, offering unique scenarios and experiments that might be challenging to implement in a real-life lab setting.

“I require my students to complete assigned Labster activities to augment the microbiology program. We explore topics from a different aspect, and the quiz interactions help my students to understand topics without formal assessment stress.”

Replication of Complex Scenarios

Certain scientific scenarios or experiments are difficult, if not impossible, to replicate in a physical lab, such as a fission reactor. Labster makes these scenarios accessible, allowing students to explore and understand complex scientific phenomena in a safe and manageable way.

“It has helped in my class immensely as it allows us to interact with various tools and environments that we cannot do physically in the classroom.”

Virtual lab example - Fission: Discover a powerful energy source 

Discover our most powerful energy source! In this simulation, you will learn about the science of nuclear fission and nuclear power. What does it look like when we split the atom? What reactions are possible with fission? Why does it make radioactive waste? With your team's nuclear scientist missing, it's up to you to figure out all of these questions. 

Fission virtual lab showing the neutron at nucleus.


In conclusion, while the pandemic catalyzed the widespread adoption of virtual labs like Labster, their advantages extend far beyond the realm of remote learning. Labster's unique features and offerings can continue to support and enhance science education, fostering a more engaging, inclusive, and effective learning experience for students, even in a post-pandemic world. Thus, Labster's virtual labs represent not just an emergency solution but a robust and versatile tool for science education now and in the future.

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