2 Biology

Last update: June 1/20

Adipose Tissue: Virtual Microscope

First-year biology. Views detailed slides with a microscope and explores types of adipose tissue. It would require some more activities, such as review type questions to make it into a standalone lab. Could use it as a supplement to an introductory lab on tissue types.

Body Tissues under the Microscope

Introduction to tissues. See five tissue types under the microscope, such as epithelial, muscle, and nervous tissue. Good resolution for the images, but a not enough for a lab: good supplemental material. Requires a free Open University account.

Bowel Cancer Investigation

Introduction to cell biology. Decent introduction to lab equipment for cell and molecular biology, such as micropipettes, cytometers, thermocyclers, incubators, etc. The introduction is a bit silly, but push through: it gets better.

Collaborative Rabbit Genetics Lab

First-year biology. This is a fun little simulation that could help teach some basic genetic concepts (homozygosity, heterozygosity, dominance, etc.) using rabbit coat colour and ear type. Good for an introduction to genetics.

Colour Vision (PhET) (CC BY)

First-year biology. Learn the basics of photons, monochromatic light, and the red, green, and blue light photoreception by cones of the retina of the eye. Could be used as part of a first-year lab on sensory reception.


This involves investigation into the genetic basis for different bacterial strains. Uses several large but detailed files. Requires a free BioQUEST account.

DNA Microarray Virtual Lab

Second-year genetics. Walks students through the steps of comparing the genes being expressed in different cell types. The sounds that accompany the animation are silly, but could be turned off. Can isolate mRNA. This is not an experiment we could do in our labs easily, so it would be a good introduction to a microarray. Requires Flash.

DNA Quantitation

First-year biology or second-year genetics. Good introduction to use of spectrophotometer, used in this case to measure absorbance of DNA at 260 and 280 nm. Requires a free Open University account.

Gene Machine: The Lac Operon (PhET) (CC BY)

Second-year genetics. Fun little simulation of the lac operon. Good visual aid for explaining the operon.

Genetic Drift Simulation

Great for understanding genetic drift mathematically.

How to Extract DNA from Anything Living (some permissions)

Walk-through of how to extract DNA from any living thing at home.

Lactase Enzyme Simulation with Data Analysis (CC BY-NC-ND)

From the site: “The goal of this simulation is to understand three factors (the initial amount of glucose, pH, and temperature) that affect the rate that the enzyme lactase converts lactose into glucose and galactose.” Requires Flash.

Leaf Structure as Environmental Indicator

Botany. This is a nice overview of leaf structure in different environments. Has good images and activities with a little quiz. Could be used as part of a plant or photosynthesis lab. Requires a free Open University account.

Learn the Compound Microscope (Open Oregon) (CC BY-NC-ND)

Good overview of microscope parts and basic use. Would be a pretty short lab activity (about 30 minutes) involving adjusting focus, lighting, etc., to see lettuce and onion cells. Contains a video, a quiz, and a virtual practice lab exercise.

Lizard Evolution Virtual Lab (free for educational purposes)

This is a great online module that asks students to gather data by measuring limb length from photos and interpret this to answer evolutionary questions about speciation and convergent evolution in anole lizards.

Natural Selection (PhET) (CC BY)

Fun simulation game of natural selection based on rabbits and their coat colours, teeth, and tail lengths and selective pressure from wolves and food finding.

Peppered Moths (Natural Selection Game) (CC BY-SA)

This simulation allows you to watch natural selection in action. You act as a predator eating light and dark moths, and at the end of the activity, you see how many light and how many dark moths survived, thanks to their colouring.

Population Dynamics (free for educational purposes)

From BioInteractive: “This interactive simulation allows students to explore two classic mathematical models that describe how populations change over time: the exponential and logistic growth models.”

Sexual Selection in Guppies

First-year biology. Simulates John Endler’s classic 1980 experiment with guppies and the number of spots on males and how it changes over time as you adjust preference of females and number of predators. Could be a good resource to complement an introductory lab on natural and sexual selection.


Citizen science project to map every tree in Britain. Fun exercise with a map and “adding” tree species (comparing tree species) to determine economic and ecosystem benefits such as carbon sequestration. Very much focused on trees in the UK, but still interesting to play around with. Fun complement to an introduction to biosphere or ecosystem ecology lab.

Virtual Anatomy Lab

First-year anatomy and histology. Could also be used for other labs, such as an introductory lab to tissue types, introduction to organs (skin), and pre-dissection activities, such as what the different body cavities and planes are.

Virtual Biology Lab

Population, community, behavioural, conservation, and biodiversity ecology modelling labs.  Looks awesome for ecology. Data is biologically realistic and is displayed numerically and graphically.

Virtual Pig Dissection

Full of good images. Would be a good tool to supplement a pig dissection lab. There is a lot of clicking the mouse to see each section, but would still be quite useful.

Virtual Scanning Electron Microscopy

A series of interactive tutorials that explore various aspects of virtual scanning electron microscopy. Toggle focus, contrast, brightness, and magnification when looking at a variety of samples.


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Virtual Lab and Science Resource Directory by BCcampus is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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