European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences

Our inspiring educational experiences share the scientific discoveries of EMBL with young learners aged 10-19 years and teachers in Europe and beyond.

Virtual visits

The European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (ELLS) – EMBL’s education facility – offers virtual guided tours of EMBL for school groups.

The unprecedented global crisis of 2020 has brought to the forefront the critical need for scientific literacy. This includes cultivating an understanding of the nature of scientific discovery and an understanding of how science works. We believe that education should equip young learners with the ability to navigate responsibly through emerging socio-scientific issues. To fulfill this goal and to meet the growing need for virtual STEM engagement, we now offer virtual guided tours of EMBL.

Join our virtual tour and learn what EMBL is all about, experience cutting-edge life sciences first hand, and meet the scientists behind the research.

You can find out more about our virtual tours below. 

Please make sure you read through all sections before applying for a virtual tour.

What we offer

Who are the virtual visits for?

The virtual guided tours are aimed at school groups of Europe and beyond. All virtual tours will take place at specifically indicated CET times. Whether you are interested in learning about the latest developments in basic life sciences research, are curious about the interdisciplinary nature of scientific endeavours, or keen to get an insight into careers in the life sciences, a virtual EMBL tour may just be right for you.

Rules on school and country quota

As we receive a high number of applications and want to keep the programme open to all countries and schools, groups will be selected by the following criteria:

  • Maximum of four schools per country per calendar year
  • Priorities will be given to countries with lower attendance rates
  • Maximum of one tour per school per calendar year
  • Priorities will be given to schools which have not attended an EMBL tour the previous calendar year, or at all

Attention Greek schools: please consider applying for the 24 June visit. We are currently experiencing an increased number of requests from Greek schools. In an effort to address this demand we are exploring the possibility of offering the 24 June as a special edition of the School Visits Programme, including EMBL scientists from Greece. ELLS is committed to serving all countries and school groups in a fair manner.

How does a typical visit look like?

A typical virtual tour will last approximately 45-60 minutes. Currently, we offer a selection of three different modules: EMBL and research (module A), Careers in the life sciences (module B), and Life as an EMBL researcher (module C).

Module A: EMBL and research 

Group size: Minimum 15, maximum open

A typical EMBL and research tour comprises:

  • Introduction to EMBL: Learn about EMBLs history, research, organization and its people.
    • Duration: 10 minutes welcome and presentation + 5 minutes questions and answers
  • Scientific talk: An EMBL researcher presents their current work and talks about their daily life.
    • Duration: 20 minutes presentation + 5 minutes questions and answers

Module B: Careers in the life sciences

Group size: Minimum 15, maximum 25

A typical Careers in the Life Sciences tour comprises:

  • Introduction to EMBL: Learn about EMBL’s history, research, organization and its people
    • Duration: 10 minutes welcome and presentation + 5 minutes questions and answers
  • Careers in the Life Sciences: EMBL staff from various fields (from life sciences to law) will talk about their career paths followed by a panel discussion to discuss scientific and non-scientific career paths open to students.
    • Duration: 10 minutes for staff career paths + 30 minutes panel discussion

Module C: Life as an EMBL researcher

Group size: Minimum 15, maximum open
A typical Life as an EMBL researcher tour comprises:

  • Introduction to EMBL: Learn about EMBL’s history, research, organization and its people.
    • Duration: 10 Minutes welcome and presentation + 5 minutes questions and answers
  • Flash talks: Life as a researcher: Two flash talks by EMBL staff members from different stages of career or different disciplines discuss their life as researchers.
  • Scientific talk: Learn about an exciting topic or technique or tool being studied/ used at EMBL
  • Duration: Three talks of 10 minutes each + 15 minutes questions and answers

Coming up in 2021: Module D: Discover the Scientific method and Module E: Tours: EMBL and the lab

Are there restrictions on group size?

The minimum group size is 20, including accompanying teachers. If you would like to have a virtual guided tour with a smaller school group, please contact us via email and we will try our best to allocate you to an existing virtual tour.

The maximum group size for Careers in the life sciences (module B) is 25, including accompanying teachers.

Are the visits free of charge?

Outreach and training are integral parts of EMBL. All virtual guided tours are free of charge.

What languages do you offer?

The virtual guided tours are usually offered in English, the working language of EMBL. Depending on the availability of EMBL scientists and staff, we may also be able to provide parts of the visit in German or other languages, but this cannot be guaranteed. Please indicate your language preferences in the application form.

Booking your visit

When do you offer visits?

We offer virtual tours one day/month throughout the year. The tours last for 45-90 minutes and take place between 10:00 to 12:00 or 14:00 to 16:00 CET (Europe/Berlin). We work with individual school groups to decide the exact timings of the tour within this time frame. Available dates for 2022 are shown in the timetable below. Please indicate your preferred date and time when completing the application form.

Please note that we will not be able to offer virtual guided tours outside the dates given in the timetable.

Please note that we are restructuring our school visits to EMBL programme. Therefore, currently we are not offering virtual tours. The visits to EMBL will resume in the new school year 2022/2023. Consider subscribing to our newsletter to learn first about our new offerings.

How do I apply for a visit?

To apply for a virtual guided tour on one of the free dates, please select “Apply” below to complete the application form for EMBL virtual guided tours for school groups. Please note that we will only accept tour requests using this application form.

Once we have reviewed your application, we will notify you as soon as possible to discuss your virtual guided tour with you. Due to the high number of tour requests we receive, invitations to virtual guided tours are made on a case-by-case basis. Please note that your tour is only confirmed after you have received a confirmation email from us.

As the programme is very popular, please only apply for a virtual guided tour if you are certain you will be able to attend. Once your tour has been confirmed, please notify us as soon as possible of any changes to your tour, including group size (see notes on group size). If you need to cancel the tour, please notify us as soon as possible so we can try and assign your slot to another school. Please note that late cancellations will jeopardise the viability of the programme and put a burden on our scientific volunteers.

Terms and conditions

Please make yourself familiar with the terms and conditions for participating in our school visits and on data protection. Your agreement towards these terms and conditions is required before you can continue with applying for a visit.

Technical aspects

How to connect?

The virtual guided tours will take place on the online platform Zoom.

Once your application has been confirmed from both sides, we will send you all the information that you need to join your virtual guided tour.

On the day of the tour please connect to the Zoom room ten minutes before the tour is set to begin. We also encourage you to test the virtual conference system by connecting to Zoom at the test time indicated in your email invite.

Note: If you are unable to join the tour via Zoom, please indicate this via the application form! At the moment it is only possible to join the EMBL virtual tour via Zoom. However, we plan to, in the future, offer alternative video conference systems to virtually connect to EMBL.

European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (ELLS)

EMBL Heidelberg
Meyerhofstraße 1
69117 Heidelberg

Tel: +49 6221 387-8805
Fax: +49 6221 387-98252
Email us