InsightBlog

Expanded LabSims collections to enhance valuable face-to-face and online lab teaching

LearnSci
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November 11, 2021

This last year and a half has been an incredibly challenging time for both students and educators. Restrictions on face-to-face teaching have meant, for many undergraduates, next semester will be the first time in 18-months that they will carry out practical lab work. This Pandemic Lab Experience Gap has led to students feeling low in confidence as they approach the new academic year.

To help you prepare your students, we have added new LabSims to both our bioscience and chemistry collections. These have been designed with students in mind to help enhance in person lab sessions, increasing students confidence and understanding of practical techniques. Here we give an overview of these resources, which you can also view in our LabSim product catalogue.

Additions to our bioscience LabSim library

Flow Cytometry: Fundamentals

We are excited to be delivering this new interactive to our bioscience library, the first of a new series that focuses on immunology. The LabSim is focused on introducing flow cytometry, providing a comprehensive overview of this important cell analysis technique. Within the resource, students will explore the internal components of the flow cytometer and the light signals detected by the instrument are shown in the interactive animation player.

The player, featured in many of our resources, allows students to revisit each clip and information point as often as needed to understand the content. In further pages, students investigate the relationship between scattered light signals and cellular morphology. They explore how this data, together with fluorescent signals, can distinguish cell populations.

Haematoxylin and Eosin (H&E) Stain

A fundamental principle for many human life sciences, this LabSim takes students through the protocols involved in using this key histological stain.  The repetitive nature of H&E staining can make it difficult for students to understand all of the stages thoroughly. Our resource ensures students understand the mechanisms involved for each stain, and each reagent's role in the protocol.

H and E staining LabSim stage staining with haematoxylin

This is achieved by asking students to work through the process in three stages; preparing tissue for staining, staining tissue with H&E, and preparing the tissue for coverslipping. They also will examine incorrectly stained tissues to determine how they would adjust the protocol in order to correct them. Students can use this resource to supplement practical H&E work to develop a true understanding of a high-quality stain.

Bradford Assay

In addition to a range of spectroscopy LabSims, we now have a dedicated Bradford assay resource. This LabSim investigates the principle of the reaction and the relationship between protein concentration and absorbance. The interactive visualisations of the protein and reagent aids student comprehension of what molecular mechanisms are occurring to produce the results seen in their labs.

Screenshot showing an activity where students explore the effect of changing protein concentration on the colour of the solution and the resulting absorbance reading during the Bradford Assay.

Students will also explore the steps involved in the protocol and appreciate the different solutions that must be prepared to carry out the assay. The LabSim demonstrates the effects of omitting steps from the protocol on the calibration curve, bridging their understanding of correct procedure and reliable results. In addition, students will investigate the errors introduced during analysis when the sample absorbance falls outside of the analytical range.

Floral Diagrams and Floral Formulae

Our first plant biology LabSim, this resource introduces students to the basics of flower anatomy and builds their understanding of the construction and interpretation of floral diagrams. Interactive images feature throughout, allowing students to isolate particular structures within the flower.

Students familiarise themselves with the whorls of a flower, then explore different images and build representative floral diagrams to match. Diagrams live update according to the students' selection, this allows exploration of many different combinations without having to draw them out. Other activities within the resource guide students through the components of a floral formula, using fuchsia as an example. Students must then apply their learning to construct the correct formula for an alstroemeria flower using a photo and floral diagram.

Dressing for the Clinic

Health and safety are paramount for students completing any practical science work. Our most recent safety LabSim focuses on preparing students for placements and clinic experiences. Useful for a variety of applied health science students, the resource emphasises the importance of appropriate clothing for clinical placements and highlights items which pose safety risks.

Dressing for the Clinic LabSim page showing options for clinicians clothing

Students will explore the different clothing options, applying feedback to choose an appropriate hairstyle, top, leg wear and shoes that are both safe and professional. They must also decide what personal effects are permitted in the clinic.

Additions to our chemistry LabSim library

High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)

Adding to our four existing chromatography interactives, our newest chemistry resource will introduce students to the apparatus and principles of HPLC. The LabSim demonstrates these by using interactive graphs and animations of the column mechanisms.

Students will be introduced to key terminology such as resolution, efficiency and selectivity. They will  explore the relationship between the column properties, phase polarity and sample resolution using interactive graphs and column visualisations. Finally, students learn about the different separation modes and must predict the order of elution of three different compounds. By viewing animations of the column alongside the graphical output, students are able to solidify the link between them, and use this knowledge to better understand the results they achieve in their labs.

Schlenk Line: Fundamentals

The Schlenk Line is a complex apparatus that can often be difficult to understand, and when misused, can be potentially very dangerous. Our new LabSim offers a clear introduction to this challenging topic, outlining the fundamental components and the underlying principles in a safe, risk-free learning environment.

Students will explore the setup and operation of key equipment, such as the oil bubbler, dewar and solvent tap, with safety considerations being highlighted throughout. The resource allows students to analyse the equipment and consider the outcomes of both correct and incorrect setup.

Screenshot showing an activity in the Schlenk Line LabSim where students explore the mechanics of the stopcock.

Do you have any suggestions for topics you’d like to see in our resources? Get in touch with us today! To preview all of our new resources visit our LabSims Library.

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