New In: Labster’s Latest Simulations

Updated January 28, 2021

Labster has been supporting science teachers and students as they adapt to learning anywhere, including in hybrid, online, and face-to-face course delivery formats since this post was originally published in April 2020. 

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve worked hard to develop a broad range of accessible new virtual lab simulations and lab manuals and short animated videos so you have the tools and resources you need as you continue to deliver science education to students everywhere. 

In this round-up of our latest simulations, you’ll be introduced to our newest:

New Biology Virtual Labs

Labster’s biology virtual lab simulations help students to understand the life cycles of living organisms. Our biology virtual labs support instructors as you teach cell theory, evolution, genetics, energy, and homeostasis.

image from bioinformatics virtual lab

Bioinformatics Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Bioinformatics: An introduction virtual lab simulation you’ll embark on a mission to identify the metabolic pathway that produces an antimalarial compound in a rare plant. You will learn how to identify the genes that encode specific enzymes and use a method called RNA-seq to quantify the transcription of different genes to narrow down the candidate genes with bioinformatics tools.

Learning Highlights:

  • Understand how a gene can be involved in the synthesis of a compound
  • Understand how Next Generation Sequencing technology can be used to measure gene expression
  • Use BLAST and phylogenetic analysis to screen candidate genes

Techniques:

  • BLAST
  • RNA-seq

image from evolution virtual lab

Evolution Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Evolution: Founding Theories and Principles virtual lab simulation you’ll follow the million-year evolutionary journey of a canid colony as you create random mutations in their DNA and critique biological evidence to build a taxonomic tree that unites all life on Earth.

Learning Highlights:

  • Explain the concepts of natural selection, genetic drift, and mutation
  • Apply the Hardy-Weinberg principle to demonstrate genetic variance in evolution  Explain the evolutionary relationships linking and separating the five kingdoms
  • Predict the physiological and anatomical features of organisms within a kingdom and group
  • Explain why viruses are not part of any kingdom

Techniques:

  • Taxonomy
  • Phylogeny

image from fermentation virtual lab

Fermentation: Optimize Bio-ethanol Production Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Fermentation: Optimize bio-ethanol production virtual lab simulation You’ll learn how to optimize alcohol production in a fermentor, experimenting with the growth conditions of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae in order to produce as much bio-ethanol as quickly as possible.  

Learning Highlights:

  • Simulate yeast batch fermentation
  • Outline the principles of fermentation and its applications
  • Summarize the principal components of a fermentor and their function
  • Experiment with the effect of temperature, pH, gas, and agitation on fermentation
  • Analyze growth curves qualitatively to identify optimal growth parameters

Techniques:

  • Aseptic Technique
  • Bioreactor or fermentor

image from cell membrane and transport virtual lab

Cell Membrane and Transport Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Cell Membrane and Transport: Learn how transporters keep cells healthy virtual lab simulation, you’ll discover the structure and function of cell membranes by launching cargo molecules at a virtual cell. Apply your learning back in the lab to improve the health of synthetic cells that the lead researcher wants to use to produce insulin.

Learning Highlights:

  • Understand the real-world context of cell membrane and transport by helping out in a synthetic biology lab.
  • Have first hand experience of the importance of selective permeability through interactive learning activities.

image from cell structure virtual lab

Cell Structure Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Cell Structure: Cell theory and internal organelles virtual lab simulation, you’ll explore a forest to discover the cellular structures of various organisms to help determine what a bear ate before it died. Build the structure and choose the internal organelles of the four basic types of animal cells.

Learning Highlights:

  • Engage students with free exploration learning activities and investigative storylines.
  • Build larger-than-life versions of each of the four animal cell types on the holofloor.

image from Biomes virtual lab

Biomes Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Biomes: Identify and create the main biomes on Earth virtual lab simulation, you’ll learn about the main biomes on Earth and where they are located with our new Biome Generator. You will be able to adjust different parameters to build your own biome and observe the result of your changes instantly!

Learning Highlights:

  • Freely experiment and adjust different parameters to build your own biome with our new Biome Generator.
  • Try as many times needed to re-create Earth’s main biomes; our friendly in-game lab assistant Dr. One can help point you in the right direction.

image from Trophic levels virtual lab

Trophic Levels Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Trophic Levels: Grazer vs. predator virtual lab simulation, you’ll experience first-hand how energy is transferred within a food web and between trophic levels. In this simulation, students will guide a zebra towards a feeding ground by interacting with organisms in different trophic levels.

Learning Highlights:

  • Receive immediate feedback upon exploring food webs and trophic levels in this short simulation with an engaging storyline.

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New Anatomy & Physiology Virtual Labs

In our Anatomy & Physiology lab simulations, students will learn how cells make up organs and systems, and how a well-regulated communication between all of them makes the existence of organisms possible. Students will be able to study human physiology and discover how different organs in the body keep the body functioning.

image from echocardiography virtual lab

Introduction to Echocardiography Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Introduction to Echocardiography: Use Different Projections to Diagnose Patients virtual lab simulation, you will learn how to perform cardiac ultrasound using different modes and views. After practicing on a virtual heart, you will also evaluate cardiac function on a patient.

Learning Highlights:

  • Distinguish and apply the different projections used in a basic echocardiography examination, as well as where the transducer is placed to obtain them.
  • Understand the physics behind Doppler and how and when to apply it correctly.
  • Understand and evaluate the most common measurements used for evaluation of left and right ventricular systolic function.
  • Understand and evaluate the most common measurements used for evaluation of left ventricular diastolic function.
  • Assess heart chamber dimensions (left and right ventricles, left and right atria, aortic root, vena cava, valvular function) and recognize what makes a case normal.

Techniques:

  • Echocardiography
  • Color Doppler
  • Pulsed-wave Doppler
  • Continuous-wave Doppler
  • Tissue Doppler
  • M-mode

image from Fluorescence Microscopy virtual lab

Fluorescence Microscopy Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Fluorescence Microscopy virtual lab simulation, you’ll assemble the fluorescence microscope and discover how the key components help to create a high contrast image. You’ll learn how to use a fluorescence microscope to analyze an intestine tissue sample, discover what fluorescence is and what the applications and limitations of fluorescence microscopy in biology are.  

Learning Highlights:

  • Explain the function of different parts of the fluorescence microscope
  • Optimize fluorophore choice
  • Describe the application and limitations of fluorescence microscopy in biology
  • Understand the need for staining

image from Muscle Tissues Virtual Lab

Muscle Tissues Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Muscle Tissues: An overview virtual lab simulation, you’ll explore the distribution and function of the three different muscle tissues found in the human body. Examine them down to the cellular level and dive further into their molecular structures to reveal the fascinating mechanisms behind muscle contractions.

Learning Highlights:

  • Interact with the anatomical 3D holograms to explore the distribution and main functions of the different muscle tissues in the body.
  • Examine muscle tissues at the cellular level with 3D cellular models.
  • Observe how a muscle cell contracts with immersive animations and models of a sarcomere.
image from Homeostatic Control virtual lab

Homeostatic Control Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Homeostatic Control: How does the human body keep itself in balance? virtual lab simulation, you’ll visit the Homeostatic Control lab to learn all about the concept of homeostasis and how it can be applied to a wide range of systems, from blood pressure to body temperature.

Learning Highlights:

  • Observe homeostasis in action by testing different settings on our virtual volunteer
  • Identify the actors in homeostatic regulation pathways through interactions with a 3D model of a human body

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New Organic Chemistry Virtual Labs

Labster’s organic chemistry virtual lab simulations help students to study the structure and reactions of carbon-containing compounds by visualizing abstract molecular concepts. Our organic chemistry virtual labs support instructors as they guide students toward chemistry-literacy and beyond to bright futures in pharmaceutical, synthetic, and formulation chemistry. 


image from Proton NMR virtual lab

Proton NMR Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Proton NMR: Spectrum interpretation Virtual Lab Simulation, you’ll learn the basic tools needed for interpreting a proton NMR spectrum and use them to elucidate the structure of an unknown compound.

Learning Highlights:

  • Define chemical shift and peak splitting
  • Describe effects of molecular structure on chemical shift and peak splitting
  • Explain the concept of equivalent and non-equivalent protons
  • Assign chemical shifts for protons in the following types of groups: Alkanes, alkyl halides, alcohols, ketones
  • Evaluate peak splitting and peak integrals for molecular structure elucidation
  • Use proton NMR spectroscopic data to deduce the full structure of a simple organic compound

image from Recrystallization virtual lab

Recrystallization Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Recrystallization virtual lab simulation, you will learn the steps to follow in order to dissolve a solid and recrystallize it to eliminate impurities using the recrystallization technique. You will learn why it is important to choose the right solvent and which are the best ways to recrystallize your solid. 

Learning Highlights:

  • Explain the fundamentals of recrystallization theory and be able to describe the process on molecular and operational levels 
  • Carry out the recrystallization technique by following best practices 
  • Be able to troubleshoot and rectify common problems encountered in recrystallization

This is the full-length version of the “Recrystallization” simulation. You can also play the simulation in two smaller parts: “Recrystallization: Filter your crystals and measure the melting point” and “Recrystallization: Dissolve your solid and precipitate your crystals.” 


image from Redox Reactions virtual lab

Redox Reactions Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Redox Reactions: Discover how batteries work! virtual lab simulation, you’ll discover the chemical reactions that power batteries by finding oxidation numbers, balancing redox reactions, and experimenting with redox reactions in the lab.

Learning Highlights:

  • Describe the concept of oxidation states and explain trends in the periodic table
  • Apply the rules for determining the oxidation state
  • Describe the role of the electron in reduction-oxidation
  • Predict the direction of redox reactions
  • Balance a redox reaction in both acidic and alkaline environments

Techniques:

  • Aqueous redox reactions
  • Galvanic cells

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Introducing shorter virtual lab mini-simulations

Labster’s mini-simulations are designed to give instructors more tightly-focused learning content. You can assign these brief virtual labs whenever you want to zero-in on a particular concept or technique. 

While our traditional, full-length labs are typically 30-40 minutes long, these mini simulations can be completed by your students in just 10-20 minutes.

Since many of our mini-simulations are spin-offs of full-length virtual labs, we’ve made it easy for you to assign the related, full-length version later if you want to take a deeper dive into the larger topic. 

image from Aseptic Technique virtual lab

Aseptic Technique Virtual Lab

After completing Labster’s Aseptic Technique virtual lab simulation, you’ll understand the principles of aseptic technique for the prevention of infection and contamination.

Learning Highlights:

  • Create and maintain a sterile work area
  • User sterile equipment and consumables correctly
  • State potential sources of microbial contamination
  • Assess whether a sample was contaminated

This technique-based simulation was adapted from learning objectives in the original  “Fermentation” simulation.


image from Functional Groups and Basic Chemical Tests virtual lab

Functional Groups and Basic Chemical Tests Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Functional Groups and Basic Chemical Tests virtual lab simulation, you will learn the very basics of functional groups within organic chemistry, and perform simple chemical tests to validate their presence.

Learning Highlights:

  • Give examples of functional groups of organic compounds and their reactions
  • Determine the presence of specific functional groups by carrying out simple chemical tests
  • Investigate the functional groups present in salicylic acid by performing a series of chemical tests

Techniques:

  • Bromine test for unsaturated hydrocarbons
  • Ceric Ammonium Nitrate test for alcohols and phenols
  • Sodium bicarbonate test

This mini-simulation was adapted from the longer “Organic Chemistry Introduction


image from Gel Electrophoresis virtual lab

Gel Electrophoresis Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Gel Electrophoresis virtual lab simulation, you will learn how you can use DNA fingerprinting to identify individuals. You will use gel electrophoresis to separate and visualize DNA fragments.

Learning Highlights: 

  • Summarize how nucleic acid molecules migrate through an agarose gel
  • Explain the principles behind size separation and direction of migration
  • Analyze and interpret a nucleic acid gel by using a DNA ladder and controls

image from Light Microscopy virtual lab

Light Microscopy Virtual Lab

Labster’s Light Microscopy virtual lab simulation shows you how to use a light microscope to analyze an intestine tissue sample. You’ll discover why biological samples need to be processed before they can be imaged and what the applications and limitations of light microscopy in biology are. 

Learning Highlights:

  • Explain the function of different parts of the microscope
  • Compare the terms magnification, contrast, and resolution
  • Describe the application and limitations of light microscopy in biology
  • Understand the need for sample preparation

This simulation, along with “Fluorescence Microscopy,” has been adapted from the original, larger “Microscopy” simulation.


image from Spectrophotometers virtual lab

Spectrophotometers Virtual Lab

In Labster’s Spectrophotometers: Building and exploring the Instrument virtual lab simulation, you will build your own spectrophotometer to discover how you can measure substances with light.

Learning Highlights:

  • Summarize how a spectrophotometer is used to measure absorbance data
  • Link the major components of a spectrophotometer to their functions within the instrument
  • Choose an optimal wavelength for measuring a compound of interest using absorbance spectrum data

Technique:

  • Spectrophotometry


This targeted mini-simulation is part of the larger “Spectrophotometry: Learn the Beer-Lambert law with absorbance experiments.”

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