Lab Activities

One of the biggest challenges of remote teaching is sustaining the lab components of classes, not to mention creating an engaging experience.

Since many labs require specific equipment, it is difficult or impossible to reproduce a comparable experience outside of that physical space.

Thankfully, there are a number of excellent resources available that may be suitable to the needs of PBSci lab instructors.

Investigate virtual labs

Online resources and virtual tools may replicate the lab experience: virtual dissection, night sky apps, video demonstrations of labs, and simulations.

    • The UCSC Library has a full subscription to JoVe Science Educational Videos including conceptual videos (animations to explain theory) and full lab demonstrations

      • Disciplines: biology, chemistry, engineering, physics, and environmental sciences

      • Link or embed into a Canvas page

    • BeyondLabz is a virtual laboratory where students click & drag to perform experiments, including analytical tools and lab notebooks.

      • Disciplines: biology, chemistry, physics, and physical sciences

      • Student fee: $25 for one year access

      • Learn more by watching video tutorials on the BeyondLabz YouTube channel in your discipline

    • Check with your textbook publisher, or sites such as Merlot and PhET for materials (many open source) that may replace parts of your lab.

Choose-your-adventure lab websites!!

Increase student interaction

Labs provide valuable time for direct student interaction. Consider other ways to replicate that type of interaction or create new online interaction opportunities.

    • Use Zoom breakout rooms in synchronous lab meetings to give students time to talk through the experiment.

    • Group projects or collaborative assignments. GradeScope, for example, allows group submissions.

Provide raw data for analysis

In cases where the lab includes both collection of data and its analysis, consider showing how the data can be collected, and then provide some raw sets of data for students to analyze.

  • TAs provide randomized data to students within a range to individualize the experience and prevent cheating.

additional resources

Feel free to reach out to Caitlin Binder (, Chemistry Lecturer and PBSci Course Design Fellow to discuss how to make the most out of the remote labs, even making them fun!