The Virtual Laboratory
The Virtual Laboratory is an e-learning application that gives upper-secondary students opportunities to carry out advanced biotechnology laboratory experiments that they cannot perform at school for time, safety or financial reasons. The application is available free of charge online to all the upper-secondary schools in Denmark.
In the Virtual Laboratory, students can carry out experiments that are structured as if the students were standing in a real laboratory but that can be performed anywhere, anytime. Time is a key factor in many biotechnology processes but not in the Virtual Laboratory. Processes and techniques that can take 24 hours in a real laboratory, such as making a yeast culture overnight, take just 10 seconds.
Examples of what students can do in the Virtual Laboratory include designing genes, genetically engineering yeast cells and viewing great animations of molecules and microbiological reactions. The Laboratory also provides opportunities to train students in good research practices and provides them an overview of the workings of a biotechnology process from start to finish. The Laboratory is designed to provide students with insight into how the biotechnology industry functions and how biotechnology can help solve some of tomorrow’s problems.
The Virtual Laboratory also covers core areas from teaching in biotechnology supplemented by comprehensive written material.
The Biotech Academy developed the Virtual Laboratory and publishes teaching material for upper-secondary schools. The Academy’s mission is to get young Danes aware of and interested in biotechnology so that Denmark can continue develop the talent in the future that is required to be a global leader in biotechnology.
The Virtual Laboratory was launched in November 2012 and currently offers two virtual experiments. The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a grant to expand the activities of the Laboratory. The aim is to develop more experiments and exercises, opportunities to design and carry out individual experiments and thereby also improve teachers’ opportunities to use the Laboratory as a starting-point in preparing their own teaching plans.