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Labster best suits high school students ready to meet its advanced expectations: Students taking AP biology or upper-level science electives (such as genetics or medical careers) will find a great resource in this tool. Pairing up students to complete labs (using one login) may be a good strategy to provide extra support and better utilize the tool's capabilities. You'll want to run through the whole lab first, noting places that might stump kids (due to technique or content) and coming up with solutions.
Try Labster as a precursor to your wet lab. The virtual lab lets kids attempt new techniques while making mistakes that won't affect time lines or budgets. Further, the site is thorough in its procedures (users dispose of every pipette tip!), so kids get practice with details that –- when transferred to a real lab –- increase successful results. Or, use Labster post-lab; the site's questions and animations can really spark connections between procedures and processes.Continue reading Show less
Labster's website offers more than 20 biotechnology lab simulations. Aimed mainly at a collegiate audience, the content and language are advanced. Still, much of what's here is quite relevant, with some labs even marked for high school. A brief introduction places labs in a real-world context, and continued dialogue keeps this connection.
A LabPad guides students by providing all instructions and quiz questions from its Home tab. Supporting information is available wiki-style from the Theory tab; automatically saved images from prior lab scenes are in the Media tab; and completion along a checklist is under Mission. Labs can be returned to once they're started, although you can't necessarily return to the exact stopping point. Students are required to answer (many) questions related to experimental processes and content. They earn more points for choosing the right answer first and must select the correct one before proceeding.
Students can complete Labster’s “real” biotech tasks while also accessing valuable animations and explanations. Questions posed along the way help students think about their lab actions -- for example, "Why am I using primers?" Labster lets kids connect procedures with underlying cellular and molecular processes in a way wet labs often can't.
The LabPad is well-designed to provide task-related tips and background information. Still, technical glitches or incorrect techniques can trip up users. Task-specific hints, a more robust help menu, or the ability to jump to the next task could all improve the user experience. Teachers would appreciate the ability to move to desired lab sections for instructional purposes. Printable quizzes and lab procedures could assist the transfer of this amazing learning from the virtual world into the real one.
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.
Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales.
From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.
Use a model to illustrate the role of cellular division (mitosis) and differentiation in producing and maintaining complex organisms.
Use a model to illustrate how photosynthesis transforms light energy into stored chemical energy.
Use a model to illustrate that cellular respiration is a chemical process whereby the bonds of food molecules and oxygen molecules are broken and the bonds in new compounds are formed resulting in a net transfer of energy.
Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
Ask questions to clarify relationships about the role of DNA and chromosomes in coding the instructions for characteristic traits passed from parents to offspring.
Make and defend a claim based on evidence that inheritable genetic variations may result from: (1) new genetic combinations through meiosis, (2) viable errors occurring during replication, and/or (3) mutations caused by environmental factors.
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