InsightBlog

Combine LabSims and Smart Worksheets around STEM topic areas

Ashleigh Steele
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November 11, 2021

The Pandemic Lab Experience Gap is a reality for many institutions. First-year STEM university course leaders are faced with a challenge of ensuring their new students gain the skills required for practical courses efficiently, even though they’ve potentially had limited practical science experience in their post-16 education during the pandemic.

LearnSci LabSims and Smart Worksheets can be used in combination to support practical skill development around a particular topic area. This article outlines just two examples and a handful of LabSims and Smart Worksheets available.

Smart Worksheet and LabSim combination

Example 1 - Basic Lab Skills

Put yourself in the shoes of a first year bioscience undergraduate student who’s had minimal lab experience in the last 16 months; they’re low in confidence, and high in anxiety. The course leader wants to ensure the student has the basic lab skills to be safe, so sets up mandatory pre-lab exercises on the university’s VLE. As part of this pre-lab work the student is able to complete a combination of LabSims and Smart Worksheets.

  • Common lab safety equipment and hazardous behaviour can be identified, along with developing an understanding of the steps required to be taken when emergencies arise or when leaving the lab. Features of basic labware can also be developed with an understanding of their specific uses.
  • Concepts of solution and dilutions, along with the controls and functionality of pipettes can then be explored.
  • Scientific terminology such as accuracy and precision can be differentiated through visual analysis and in the context of simple experimental examples. Scientific notation and units can also be explored, enabling students to know how and why to use them.

This focussed combination of LabSims and Smart Worksheets cover many aspects of basic lab skills, increasing both confidence and competence. Enabling the instructors to make the most of the valuable in-person lab time.

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Example 2 - Acid Base Titrations

In order to make the most of the in-person lab time, the course leader of a first-year chemistry module wants to make sure all their students have the basic technical understanding of how to accurately carry out an acid-base titration. Pre-lab work, containing LabSims and Smart Worksheets, are set before the lab class.

  • Within the LabSims, students can practise setting up and filling a burette, reading a burette accurately, and running a titration to identify endpoints. Each of the LabSims allow the student to manipulate the equipment, practice taking measurements and see the effects of their choices, enabling them to make mistakes in a safe environment before even touching the equipment in the lab.
  • Students can explore titration data in our range of Smart Worksheets. For example they can use a titration curve to select the titrant and analyte, identify the equivalence point, determine the pKa of a weak acid and calculate the unknown concentration of an acid.
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Our Chemistry and Bioscience LabSim libraries are full of highly engaging, interactive simulations that increase student confidence and competence in the use of laboratory techniques and equipment. Our Smart Worksheet Collection contains ready-made resources that allow students to practise complex calculations, visualise data and interpret results.

LabSims and Smart Worksheets can be combined across many other bioscience and chemistry topic areas including:

  • Enzyme Kinetics
  • Microbiology
  • PCR and Agarose Gel
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Calorimetry
  • The Synthesis of Aspirin
  • Characterising Molecules
  • pH and Buffers

Contact us for more information about how we can support practical science skill development.