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Case Studies

Åbo Akademi University Reduces Student Stress with Interactive Learning through Virtual Labs

Åbo Akademi University

Science educators face more headwinds than ever when it comes to engaging students through their daily stresses, but Åbo Akademi University, in Finland, discovered that virtual labs have a role to play in helping students fight burnout.

Discover how university lecturers use simulations to help students grasp new ideas, prepare for wet labs, and combat the isolation of passive learning.

Students responded that Labster is much nicer than reading material or viewing videos because it’s more responsive, it’s more social, you don’t feel so alone. It’s almost like there was someone you could talk to”

Pirkko Heikinheimo

Biochemistry lecturer


Åbo Akademi University


During the pandemic, Åbo Akademi needed a tool to teach practical labs remotely, but lecturers soon noticed more concerning trends. The pandemic exacerbated the stress of science education, demanding more of learners amidst an increasingly fraught mental health environment.

Labster simulations used:

• Nuclear Chemistry: Understand the processes happening in the atomic nucleus

• Western Blot Transfer



Educators adopted Labster for two Biochemistry courses, using the simulations to help students grasp new ideas, see the full sequence of lab procedures, and experience lab science remotely. After returning to in-person teaching, Åbo soon found value in assigning Labster as homework to reinforce lectures, and train critical lab skills before wet labs.


Educators expected virtual labs to be useful for remote learning, but soon found a more profound impact. Students provided positive feedback saying that they preferred simulations to traditional homework, because the interactivity felt less isolating and lonely. Labster also helped visual learners connect the dots faster, and see the big picture through an engaging experience. Today, Labster is a powerful tool for lighting a spark of inspiration that will fuel students to pursue science in the years to come.

Faculty Interview

How do you explain the global trend of higher drop-outs in science courses?

The world has become more harsh. We don’t allow time for students to grow up. And the pandemic and the isolation has increased the amount of struggle and loneliness. I think that is what causes students to drop out. Without social learning environments, they don’t feel they belong anywhere.

How does Labster help introduce students to Biochemistry?

People are different learners. Some need more visuals and some need more theoretical thinking and logic.

Labster helps different kinds of learners. It gives you an alternative method to engage students.

How has Labster enhanced your wet labs?

If the method is completely new and you receive a lot of information, it’s very difficult to get an overall picture. Labster helped students get an overview of methods, how they’re done and the sequence of events. When you teach traditionally you don’t have a way of checking if students are ready for the lab, but after doing Labster, I can see that they have completed the simulation.

What was the feedback like from students?

Students responded that Labster is much nicer than reading the material or viewing videos because it’s more responsive, it’s more social, and you don’t feel so alone. It’s almost like there was someone you could talk to.

How important is student motivation?

I don’t think you can learn if you are not motivated. You might pass an exam, but you won’t remember anything in six months. We can’t teach skills that students will need after 10 years, we need to get them motivated and we need to get them interested so that they want to keep learning and growing as scientists. Our mission is to light the lamp of passion that will carry students through their future in science.

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