Science Interactive Launches Virtual Pre-labs to Support More Effective On-Campus Labs

Written by SI • February 14, 2024 •  2 min read
Science Interactive Launches Virtual Pre-labs to Support More Effective On-Campus Labs Featured Image

Science Interactive’s new Virtual Pre-labs allow students to conduct trial experiments virtually as well as explore fundamental concepts, lab procedures, and safety protocols before entering the physical lab, enabling a more enriching on-campus lab experience.

ENGLEWOOD, COFebruary 11, 2024—Science Interactive, a leader in supporting effective online science education, just released Virtual Pre-labs for its Quality Matters-certified disciplines: Anatomy & Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Physical Science. The Virtual Pre-labs are designed to help instructors better prepare students for in-person campus labs by providing students an opportunity to first conduct an experiment virtually, saving valuable time during face-to-face labs. During Virtual Pre-labs, students learn theory, lab procedures, as well as safety protocols, and then apply these skills in trial experiments—all before setting foot in a campus laboratory. 

As instructors continue to face lab availability and space constraints, maximizing in-person lab time becomes more critical than ever. However, while many instructors use pre-labs to prepare students for experiments and ensure they understand basic concepts, procedures, and safety measures, most students’ first and only opportunity to conduct the experiment is when they enter the lab. Predicated on more than 30 years of experience partnering with institutions to offer effective online science labs, Science Interactive’s Virtual Pre-labs elevate the pre-work learning experience by ensuring students have both the foundational knowledge as well as an opportunity to practice an experiment before the in-person lab.

Virtual pre-labs give students the chance to repeat experiments in a low-stakes environment, move at their own pace, and more deeply engage with course material. In fact, in survey data collected for the 2023 Annual Lab Report, students shared the positive benefits of virtual labs when used in combination with a hands-on lab. More than 80 percent said virtual labs effectively prepared them to proceed in their course of studies, especially important for science majors and those considering transferring institutions.

Source: Student responses from the 2023 Annual Lab Report

Instructors who used Virtual Pre-labs in their fall lab courses also reported more effective in-person lab experiences, with students who feel more confident in the campus laboratory environment, as well as more time to  teach specific competencies and go deeper into analysis during the lab.

In addition to a more personalized learning experience before a hands-on campus lab, instructors can use Virtual Pre-labs to:

  • Train students in conducting experiments and addressing problems
  • Save time by introducing lab techniques, equipment, materials and standard protocols
  • Reinforce theoretical concepts
  • Enhance safety awareness for students

“Our goal with Virtual Pre-labs is to give students the opportunity to put theory into action. In addition to building their confidence, students can explore unfamiliar concepts at their own pace, learn fundamental lab safety techniques, and conduct mock experiments digitally, all before walking into the campus laboratory. We want instructors to have the opportunity to spend their face-to-face time with students going deeper into practical application and engaging in more meaningful interactions. Virtual Pre-labs help instructors deliver an even more effective learning experience that supports better outcomes and student success,” said Science Interactive’s Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Caitlin Runne-Janczy.

Science Interactive has the largest library of online labs across 11 Quality Matters-certified disciplines. All curricula, including its Virtual Pre-labs, are developed by in-house PhD scientists and reviewed by a team of instructional designers who test those labs for quality, accuracy and ADA compliance. 

To learn how you can use Virtual Pre-labs for your on-campus lab course, visit

About Science Interactive

Science Interactive makes science education accessible to all students, no matter how far they are from campus. Our complete lab solution combines customizable kits, a rigorous digital curriculum, and cutting-edge technology that makes it easier to create and deliver an hands-on lab experience for students. Over 800 institutions nationwide partner with Science Interactive to expand their online science programs, increase student engagement, and improve success rates. To learn more, visit