Safe laboratory techniques are essential to scientific research. To increase safety awareness and to motivate students to act safely and responsibly in laboratories,
STAR-LITE (Safe Techniques
Interactive Training Environment) was developed by the Division of Occupational Health and Safety (DOHS), ORS.
STAR-LITE is a game-based learning environment made up of a series of activities that take place in a virtual 3-dimensional laboratory. The tool was developed targeting high school and undergraduate students as an introduction to safe laboratory techniques and risk assessment strategies.
Recently, STAR-LITE was recognized by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance
and Innovation at Harvard University with a 2010 Bright Ideas Award. In its inaugural year, Bright Ideas is intended to recognize and share creative government
initiatives around the country with interested public sector, nonprofit and academic communities.
“Safe laboratory behaviors and attitudes, and knowledge instilled at the beginning
of the student’s work in a laboratory, will increase the likelihood of a life-long practice of safe science,” said Dr. Deborah Wilson, DOHS director. “I truly believe that we made a dynamic contribution to laboratory safety education in a fun and creative way.”
In STAR-LITE’s virtual laboratory environment, students build their own characters,
or avatars, that then enter the laboratory and embark on a series of quests that include surprising events including laboratory accidents, leading to a variety of potential exposures to biological, chemical and physical hazards. The quests require interaction with laboratory personnel, equipment and exotic characters. Safe techniques, basic laboratory skills and safety knowledge are collected
and used in solving the quests, earning points along the way.
STAR-LITE is available as a free, downloadable software product. NIH personnel are encouraged to share STAR-LITE with students, friends, schools and science teachers. For more information, visit www.starlite.nih.gov.—