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Virtual Biology Lab Activities

Although most classrooms have readjusted to in-person lab activities, occasionally students and teachers still benefit from virtual Biology lab simulations. If you don’t have the opportunity to complete labs in the classroom, there are some great virtual lab options. Many free virtual Biology lab options are available, but rather than taking your precious planning time to research them, I’ve done some leg work for you.

Virtual Biology Labs

In addition to virtual labs, there are some easy labs that students can do at home with household materials. Having taught homeschool Biology for the past 10 years with very small budgets, I have a lot of experience creating inexpensive labs that can be done at home. I have put some of my video labs on my YouTube channel or you can find 5 free at-home Biology labs that I’ve used in the past.

Here’s a collection of some websites with virtual labs and simulations.

*Please note- I have experience with some of these sites, but not all. If you find information that is in error, please let me know.

Hands-on Biology Labs
  • PhET – Over 150 virtual simulations for math and science (Free)
  • HHMI BioInteractive– This site provides real science and data for students to explore through virtual labs (Free)
  • Biology Simulations – This site has guided labs and also provides options for students to conduct their own inquiry experiments. (Free)
  • Jon Darkow– Large collection of computational models for biology and ecology (Free)
  • LabXChange – Check out this Harvard site’s library of over 300 simulations, interactives, and case studies on a wide variety of science topics. All for free!
  • Nova Labs – Growing site that has a couple of great free virtual labs that would connect with your biology content!
  • Virtual Biology Lab– Simulations for ecology, evolution, and cell biology. Great for analyzing data because no two simulations have the same result. (Free)
  • Bioman Biology– Several games and virtual activities for various life science topics. (Free)
  • Learn Genetics by the University of Utah- Cell Biology, genetics, and human anatomy simulations, articles, and games. They are slowly changing over from Flash. (Free)
  • Wisconsin Fast Plants Simulations– Great for inheritance labs if you can’t grow the actual plants in class. (Free)
  • Labster – This site provides realistic lab experiences that let students virtually practice their skills (Free trial accounts will provide up to 8 simulations for a class for free!)
  • FlyLab JS– Students can learn the principles of genetic inheritance through virtual experimentation. (Free)
  • E-Mind Virtual Dissections – Includes virtual dissections of a Frog, Fish, Fly, Pig, Cat and Invertebrate. There is also a virtual microscope to look at cells. (Each demo is 5.99)
  • Pivot Interactives– Video library of real experiments for students to analyze and collect data. ($5-$10)
  • Explore Learning – There are over 400 Gizmos (online simulations) covering math and science in this site’s library. (Free trial gives access to 40 changing gizmos each month; Paid memberships – $149/yr for home use; custom pricing for schools)
  • For Anatomy:
  • Histology Guide– High-quality microscope images for the human body.
  • Virtual Microscopy – Labeled microscope slides for all systems of the body.

You might wonder if there are advantages of virtual laboratory experiments now that in-person learning is again available. A study in Education Sciences reveals that students who use virtual Biology lab activities in addition to traditional in-person lab experiments comprehend the concepts better than those who just use in-person labs. Virtual Biology lab activities can also be useful when supplies and materials aren’t readily available. They also give students the ability to repeat the experiment at home for better understanding. It’s clear that even with the return to in-person teaching, there can be a place for virtual Biology lab simulations in your curriculum.

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