The Labster Podcast

April and SJ

The Labster Podcast gives science educators like you a chance to hear from peers who teach with Labster’s virtual labs and other educational technologies. We’ll reflect on learning and curriculum design, and leave you feeling inspired and energized about reaching and teaching your students.

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Biotech in Action Encourages High School Students to Invent a Better Future
Mar 29 2022
Biotech in Action Encourages High School Students to Invent a Better Future
Memorable Moments: Nia: [00:04:32] We tell students about a neurodegenerative disease, and this year we focus on Alzheimer's disease, which is a really terrible and prevalent disease that more and more students are coming in contact with over the course of their life. And then we challenge them to do research on their own neurodegenerative disease and really identify opportunities where invention could happen. Alex: [00:08:30] So we use Labster in Biotech in Action and we'll tell the students this is kind of like a video game meets science and it's going to be really cool. And it's always exciting to watch the students say they love Labster, and it's a great way for us to show them, you know what science looks like. Stephanie: [00:09:09] What the students were telling us was how they made such great friendships with people that they'd never known before, that didn't live in their backyard. And they'd passed information to stay in touch just like you would at a regular face-to-face camp. And this just stood in stark contrast to what I was reading in a lot of people's experiences trying to teach online. Nia: [00:14:19] We have actual professionals who are really, really passionate about their job and what it is that they are doing every day in the lab, and they don't really dumb down their language for the students. We tell the students that it's OK for them to be confused and to not know what's going on, but to really ask questions, be engaged and be participatory as best as they're able so that then they get the most out of the program. Alex: [00:16:22] Our end goal is that places like Biogen have this diversity of thinking, have this diversity of employees, and it starts with the students, right? It starts with the people that are interested in science. Those are the people that are going to become scientists. Alex: [00:17:15] I think that's always my biggest goal when I go into teaching, if they come out thinking, ‘I can do something in science, that is completely feasible for me in my career and my future’, then I think we've had a successful program. Stephanie: [00:18:34] We had one young man who came to the first summer where we had the Parkinson's theme and his father actually was struggling with Parkinson's, so he had an idea for a glove. And he presented that at the culminating event in the program. And then he kept coming back to us for coaching. And he ended up entering the Massachusetts Invention Convention, and he won at that level and went on to compete in the national competition at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, with his invention. Episode 20 Transcript:  Resources:Biotech in Action Program (free): Labster now (free):  Subscribe to our monthly newsletter:  Find Labster on Social:
Biotech in Action Encourages High School Students to Invent a Better Future
Mar 29 2022
Biotech in Action Encourages High School Students to Invent a Better Future
Memorable Moments: Nia: [00:04:32] We tell students about a neurodegenerative disease, and this year we focus on Alzheimer's disease, which is a really terrible and prevalent disease that more and more students are coming in contact with over the course of their life. And then we challenge them to do research on their own neurodegenerative disease and really identify opportunities where invention could happen. Alex: [00:08:30] So we use Labster in Biotech in Action and we'll tell the students this is kind of like a video game meets science and it's going to be really cool. And it's always exciting to watch the students say they love Labster, and it's a great way for us to show them, you know what science looks like. Stephanie: [00:09:09] What the students were telling us was how they made such great friendships with people that they'd never known before, that didn't live in their backyard. And they'd passed information to stay in touch just like you would at a regular face-to-face camp. And this just stood in stark contrast to what I was reading in a lot of people's experiences trying to teach online. Nia: [00:14:19] We have actual professionals who are really, really passionate about their job and what it is that they are doing every day in the lab, and they don't really dumb down their language for the students. We tell the students that it's OK for them to be confused and to not know what's going on, but to really ask questions, be engaged and be participatory as best as they're able so that then they get the most out of the program. Alex: [00:16:22] Our end goal is that places like Biogen have this diversity of thinking, have this diversity of employees, and it starts with the students, right? It starts with the people that are interested in science. Those are the people that are going to become scientists. Alex: [00:17:15] I think that's always my biggest goal when I go into teaching, if they come out thinking, ‘I can do something in science, that is completely feasible for me in my career and my future’, then I think we've had a successful program. Stephanie: [00:18:34] We had one young man who came to the first summer where we had the Parkinson's theme and his father actually was struggling with Parkinson's, so he had an idea for a glove. And he presented that at the culminating event in the program. And then he kept coming back to us for coaching. And he ended up entering the Massachusetts Invention Convention, and he won at that level and went on to compete in the national competition at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, with his invention. Episode 20 Transcript:  Resources:Biotech in Action Program (free): Labster now (free):  Subscribe to our monthly newsletter:  Find Labster on Social:
How to prepare science students to go out and change the world
Mar 7 2022
How to prepare science students to go out and change the world
Memorable Moments:Lori Banks [00:03:11] I think the biggest part of that is just them not choosing to do something because of a negative interaction that they've had with the professor, which has unfortunately been more common than it should be with those of us in previous generations where somebody says, 'Well, you know, well, your kind of people don't do that 'or 'that's not really a woman thing’ or whatever, both of which I have personally heard.Lori Banks [00:03:54] In my research, we work on novel antiviral development, which is obviously very needed right now. But the bigger thing that we're doing is training people to feel confident in themselves and their scientific ability so they can go out and change the world.Lori Banks [00:09:18] What helps me think, you know, very clearly and very intentionally, I think about how to coach the undergrads in terms of really thinking about goal setting, self-awareness, stress management, you know, in all of these habits that it would behoove them to develop well early so that when they come to graduate school, they really have good practice in these areas and they'll be able to just sort of you know, coast instead of hitting the learning curve the way that a lot of others of us have.Lori Banks [00:16:30] It's good that they can initially get sort of a first pass of the information from the textbook. But I'm finding that particularly with the Labster modules that I use in almost all my classes now, finding another way to stimulate the neurons is always better.Lori Banks [00:19:32] I think it's super important to have these conversations and for people to know and understand that making sure that our students are engaged in the material and feel welcome in the space is as important, if not more important, than the content that we're actually delivering. Because if they don't feel like we see them, they're not going to hear what we say.  Episode 19 Transcript:  Resources:Try Labster now:  Subscribe to our monthly newsletter:  Find Labster on Social:
What’s the value of a liberal arts education to future scientists?
Jan 31 2022
What’s the value of a liberal arts education to future scientists?
Memorable Moments:Dr. Lori Banks: They're definitely learning the nuts and bolts of the chemistry, the biology, the physics and the math, but in more of an application or problem-based learning kind of way rather than just these are the things that we need you to memorize because we said so. Dr. Lori Banks: You do need to consider what are you sending these people out into the world with now that you've granted them this bachelor's degree, what are they actually really going to be able to do with it? And do they have the skills to walk on someone's job and be productive or to go out into public service? Or, you know, a number of different things, but enough that they're able to sustain themselves? Dr. Lori Banks: The learning curve for a lot of people is so huge, particularly for students who don't have some sort of familial institutional knowledge of how graduate education works. So I actually was only recently made aware of a statistic that more people who are getting PhDs come from families where someone already has a Ph.D. than not. Dr. Lori Banks: What I worked on with the post baccs was really helping them understand what they were getting into and sort of the "off-menu items" that they needed to be aware of so that they could increase their success. Dr. Lori Banks: As we think about sort of the difference between what is helping us focus purely on the science and what has been accepted within the scientific profession because it was good for the people that were allowed to do it, we need to be aware of that and address it as such as we now have lots of people in these spaces who don't look like what the profession used to look like 50 years ago. Episode 18 Transcript:  Resources:Try Labster now:  Subscribe to our monthly newsletter:  Find Labster on Social:
Coaching for High School Science Teachers
Dec 6 2021
Coaching for High School Science Teachers
Memorable Moments:Liz: [08:15] The teachers are able to determine what their growth area is, and each time that we meet, we really looked at making these small shifts really for big rewards at the end around their practices Liz: [09:17] The great thing about it is that the teacher is in the driver's seat. So when you're thinking about those shifts that you want to make in your classroom, you have a thought partner to support you. Liz: [12:33] Any time that I lead any of my sessions with teachers, I'm always relating it back to my classroom and things that I've tried and being really honest about the growth areas that I've needed to work on myself as I've tried some of the strategies that I'm talking about. Liz: [16:16] I'm really trying to get towards that other end of the SAMR model of redefinition. Doing that in terms of using the simulations in my classroom, using the choice boards because we want to make sure that we're using those digital tools for that meaningful technology integration. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with substitution, but as we can get more towards doing new things with our students and reimagining what our classrooms look like, it's only going to be better for the students and prepare them for their future. Liz: [20:54] This is a collaborative relationship, it is not an evaluative one. I'm learning from new teachers just as much as they're learning from me because they have fresh ideas and new things that they're doing with their students that maybe I hadn't thought of. I like to kind of think about the coaching relationship as really symbiotic. Episode 17 Transcript:  More resources:BetterLesson: Labster now:  Subscribe to our monthly newsletter:  Find Labster on Social:   Technical Assistance by: Jon Keur at Wayfare Recording Co.
"Equity and Representation in STEM Education (Part 2) "
Aug 30 2021
"Equity and Representation in STEM Education (Part 2) "
Memorable Moments:Brianna [00:02:52] I feel as if the universities and colleges can definitely show you where this degree can take you in different jobs. There's so many other things that you can do with your degree. And Fisk has a roadmap for us that shows us the different jobs and different career paths that we can take with this degree, with your chosen degree, which is really cool. Brianna [00:03:56] Fortunately, I've had teachers like that say, 'you want to be a doctor? I got you. Here are some resources. Here, I can help.' And Fisk has done the same thing. 'You know, you want to be a doctor. Do you want to go here, talk to this person, go fill this out? Let's look at your resume.' But unfortunately, that's not your everyday thing for people of color. Cord [00:08:29] But it was just cool just to have people that really care about me as a person, as a human being versus as a number. So I think going to a major university, like Oklahoma State or [where] you're in the class of 100+ students, you're not getting the opportunity to really get to know the professor, not just at a professional level, but at a personal level. Cord [00:09:41] ...Because when you see people that look like you, they have a better understanding of where you come from. I think the professors before they start their courses, should tell them about their history, share what they started from, so students can understand where the professor is coming from. And as well the professors should ask students where they started from or tell their story. So that way, they can know who they are dealing with. Cord [00:16:31] I think sometimes when we try to copy and paste what other people have done, we get caught up in a competition. Don't do what other people are doing, because what tends to happen is when you don't get into that program that you always dream about on your first try, they feel like you are not good enough. No! You're good enough. It's just not your time. Episode 15 Transcript: resources: Try Labster now:  Subscribe to our monthly newsletter:  Find Labster on Social:
"Equity and Representation in STEM Education (Part 1) "
Aug 30 2021
"Equity and Representation in STEM Education (Part 1) "
Memorable Moments:Cord [00:03:09] And it just got me so excited and fired up to be around other scientists that looked like me. They were excited about chemistry. And so it just made me decide to say, you know what, I'm going to Jackson State University. Cord [00:05:17] She said, ‘don't let your title [make you] forget who you are as a person and forget where you came from.’ So I think going to [an] HBCU as a student and also working at Fisk gave me a better perspective, better appreciation of Black culture, and learning the history of African-American achievers in STEM. Brianna [00:10:19] My passion for science? Well, it started off more as I knew I wanted to be in the medical field as a young girl, like my grandmother. But as my education [continued] and I got into high school, I was like, oh, this is so cool!Brianna [00:11:25] And I'm looking to go into the medical field, into women's health with the theme of equality. And I'm saying ‘so that if you look like me, you come to me, you will get full, top-tier service. Whether you're Caucasian or any other race or ethnicity, you will get the same service.’ And I feel like that should be the theme of the whole medical field, honestly.Cord [00:13:49] So I think that's where we all have to understand each other's history, understand the background to the point where we learn to love one another and be kind to one another so we can continue to work together as a team to solve these social injustices, environmental injustice, and public health issues in today's society.Episode 14 Transcript: resources: Try Labster now:  Subscribe to our monthly newsletter:  Find Labster on Social:
The Tool is Not Your Course
Jul 31 2021
The Tool is Not Your Course
Memorable Moments: Karen:[00:05:15] Faculty need to know much sooner how students are doing in the classroom. … If we don't address those learners very early, probably before three weeks, their trajectory downward cannot be reversed. Karen: [00:10:45] You're having students check in once, twice, three times a week, but you're not having them actively show you something that they're learning … But we need to know a lot more at the granular level about their learning behavior rather than assuming that their demographic information is going to predict how they do in the classroom. SJ: [00:11:40] I'm a first generation university student that comes from an area that's historically very low tech. And I'm not sure what demographic data would have accurately predicted my trajectory. Much like many of the people that were like me with my cohort. So I'm very much with you on shifting away from demographic predictive data sets. Karen: [00:17:57] One of the things that I do really want to say to the audience, because we're often asked this question, 'please just tell me what is the right tool to use'... The tool is absolutely important. It's a lever. It provides you with data. It provides you with a guide on where I might try different things in the rest of my classroom. But it is not your course. It requires you to integrate it into your entire course to make sure it's aligned. Karen: [00:21:34] In a collaborative, project-managed way, we're now putting together multiple people with cross-disciplinary experience, instructional experience, learning, science, experience, technology experience and that all important faculty, subject matter, knowledge, experience. And by having that work collectively, we can actually achieve improved outcomes. One of the things I'm extremely proud about is in the large grant that we ran. One of the findings were in 300,000 enrollments, we were able to prevent 8700 students from having to repeat. Of course, now we may think of that and say, well, why not more? But for those students, this was real. They saved $16.5 million.Episode 13 Transcript:  resources:Improving Critical Courses Using Digital Learning & Evidence-based Pedagogy Guide for Implementing Adaptive Courseware Labster now:  Subscribe to our monthly newsletter:  Find Labster on Social:
Research on Labster in the Classroom
Jul 14 2021
Research on Labster in the Classroom
Memorable Moments:Melody: [06:19] I noticed outside my little bubble, how much women are struggling to be heard and how their work is not recognized as much as a man's work is. And that's when I started to do my part.Melody: [07:46] It has got to be a mentorship in every class that we teach, that you tell people, 'hey, you can do this.' I have a student assistant and I usually try to have students from different backgrounds so everyone in my class can say, oh, look, that person looks like me, they're doing this. I can do this, too.Melody: [13:29] And one of the reasons that Labster has been working well is that the fact that with the Labster simulation, they can do things we can never do in a classroom. I'd given an example before that there is a simulation where they go to a different planet, they take a sample, they come back to Earth and then they analyze it. That might be a little hard to do in person!Melody: [14:53] A lot of times we don't ask the students what they think. We think we know what's best for them. And it matters to me what students think because they're the ones that are learning. Melody: [17:23] The survey focused on 'after doing the Labster, are you confident that you can go to lab tomorrow and do the experiment?' And surprisingly, most of them felt confident. Melody: [21:40] I really hope that the universities are going to be open in the future to do things differently. Because they've done things the same way for a long time and it has been comfortable, but now we've learned new things,Episode 12 Transcript: resources:Picture a Scientist (video): Labster now Subscribe to our monthly newsletterFind Labster on Social: TwitterFacebookLinkedIn
Academic Technologists: the unsung heroes of pandemic teaching
May 20 2021
Academic Technologists: the unsung heroes of pandemic teaching
Memorable Moments: Leslie: [11:52] And that was quite challenging to understand what kind of tools would potentially help them, especially in the science courses, because they were used to writing on whiteboards. And how am I going to do that now in the virtual environment?Leslie: [13:25] So many of our faculty rose to the occasion, it was just amazing and inspiring, actually, to be involved with. That’s been an amazing learning takeaway from this pandemic experience. Leslie: [18:11] We don't quite know how this is all going to turn out, whether we go back and suddenly within six months, everybody is back to their traditional ways they were teaching before. But we don't think that's actually going to happen. We see that we've crossed that chasm. Leslie: [19:01] We’re going to see more of a hybrid with academic technologies in the face-to-face classroom.Shaidy: [20:17] Educational technology was really an integral part of that transition, and it continues to be used to sustain student success. I’m excited for the future of higher education and just seeing how the technology use from this time influences the future and the potential benefits that can come out of this time.Leslie: [20:44] Tools, virtual environments, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, all those different perspectives are the future of supporting innovative and dynamic, engaging instruction in the future and diverse instruction in the future. Episode 11 Transcript
Reflection is the Key
May 5 2021
Reflection is the Key
Memorable Moments: Amber: [00:06:26] We are a society that needs people to be critical thinkers. We need people to use clinical judgment. And we can't activate that thought process if we aren't asking them to apply learning. Amber: [00:08:12] The student doesn't necessarily learn in the simulation, whether it be virtual or traditional. That's not when they're engaging in their learning because they don't know what they don't know. So we ask them to read, whether it's prepping for a virtual simulation or virtual experience, we ask them to prep, we ask them to read the objectives, and then we put them in there. And once they're in the experience, all of a sudden they're challenged with 'I wasn't prepared for that.' Amber: [00:09:58] If we look at experiential learning theory, it says you've learned something, no matter what it is, you're going to use previous experience to make future decisions. Well, if I never debriefed, if I never reflected on my activity or that learning experience, how can I pull actual knowledge in future experiences to make a new decision Amber: [00:13:51] How do you expose a student? How do you make them apply something that seems so abstract to them? And the virtual simulation and Labster specifically gave us that tool. I think that it is a very valuable resource, like I said, to bring it in. We can use it as prep work. We can use it as a pre experience. We can run them through the lab together, put them in small groups. Amber: [00:16:38] So the focus of the last year, I think, highlighted the need for the development of soft skills. We can teach everyone how to start an IV, but can teach someone how to communicate with the toddler that you need to start the IV on? Episode 10 Transcript:  resouces:Try Labster now: to our monthly newsletter: Labster on Social:
Answering Your FAQs: Labster for High School
Apr 22 2021
Answering Your FAQs: Labster for High School
Memorable Moments: Carlin: [00:02:17] For me, the high school age is the perfect time for students to start growing an interest in solutions that can help us through things like this in the future. SJ: [00:06:42] We're in a very unique position to visualize or create interactions around abstract concepts to help students kind of break through the threshold concepts that are so hard to break and have their own lightbulb moments. SJ: [00:10:53] Class sizes are getting larger, teachers are stretched. They have a lot more planning to do. They have a lot more a lot more to do in order to provide learning experiences for their students … I see the virtual lab as a tool that can help me optimize the way that I deliver my teaching. SJ: [00:12:00] To me, having a virtual lab where a student can think about the protocol that they're going to do, they can do it, they can get it wrong ... so when they come in, they are feeling, 'I know what I'm doing. When I stand at this lab bench and I pick up my pipette, I know what I'm doing.' SJ: [00:12:52] To me, virtual labs could offer that little helping hand in ensuring that students are getting the preparation or the preliminary knowledge that they need in order to make the most of those more expensive or time consuming or difficult to give experiences like being in a wet lab.Carlin: [00:26:00] We really can do the majority of the heavy lifting for teachers who are going to be using a simulation for the first time - seamless, turnkey, that is ultimately the experience Episode 9 Transcript: resouces:Try Labster now: to our monthly newsletter: Labster on Social:
"Ideas for Teaching with Labster (Part 1) "
Feb 25 2021
"Ideas for Teaching with Labster (Part 1) "
Memorable moments:[00:09:34] Caitlin: Speaking specifically to virtual lab simulations, we have two main ways that we integrate them into our curriculum. So one is exactly as you said, we do it for marks and the other is really more for play. [00:11:34] Felicia: They have, I think it's worth very little like five percent of their mark, and they get multiple attempts and they have the highest one. But what I really wanted to do is I wanted it to be more like a gamified intervention type idea.[00:14:14] Felicia: I want them to have enjoyment out of university and out of their courses so that they get interested in the content, but also help them discover themselves, because that's the purpose of university. It's not just coursework. It's also discovering who you are. [00:18:39] Felicia: But what we really wanted to do was to teach them a specific fundamental biochemistry concept, whether it be DNA, proteins or metabolism, and then show them how it applies to a biomedical context. So that's what I really loved about Labster, is that it doesn't just show you the, you know, the protocol or the lab or whatever, it wraps it up in a really awesome and relevant biomedical problem. [00:21:16] Caitlin: Next Generation Sequencing is a pretty high-level technique, but in the Next Generation simulations in Labster, it builds into that technique in a very approachable way, talking about ancient DNA. And I think it really makes some of these, again, abstract and rather complex topics, approachable for students.Episode 3 Transcript: tools mentioned in this episode:Mentimeter: Teams:  Try Labster now: to our monthly newsletter: Labster on Social:
Inclusion in the Virtual Lab
Feb 25 2021
Inclusion in the Virtual Lab
Memorable moments:[00:03:27] SJ: What we aim to do is break down the barriers that stop the user from, stop a student or an educator from really engaging with the learning opportunities that are contained within. [00:05:38] SJ: What you might not know is that everything that they pick up on in terms of issues for access or cultural bias or suggestions for how we might improve the diversity of representation within our simulations comes to the content team. And we listen and we try and formulate responses that are useful that we can actually implement within our current platform. [00:08:00] SJ: We have a feature now where the skin tone of the avatar representing the user is randomly generated and there are five different skin tones to represent the different users of the simulations that can randomly be generated in the simulation. [00:15:47] SJ: We've got our simple activities, our simple pre-lab activities, if you want, and fact-finding, reading perhaps in a blog or finding information online, then we have a virtual lab experience and then maybe we have a more constructive activity, something that's more consolidated after the lab or something like that might be designed in a protocol based on a technique that's taught in the lab. [00:20:18] SJ: If you want to use the virtual labs to really deliver a portion of your syllabus or to really highlight a particular topic or technique within your syllabus for a course, then it would be better to either dedicate a time slot in the timetable for completion of the virtual lab or giving a very clear deadline of when the lab needs to be done. Episode 1 Transcript:   Try Labster now: to our monthly newsletter: Labster on Social: