McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University
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McCormick Professor Helps Develop New Remote Access Lab Program
Kemi Jona, research associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and learning strategist at the School of Education and Social Policy, recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation to partner with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to provide students with remote online access to lab equipment.
The program, called the iLab Network, will help high school students learn more by giving them remote access to world-class science instruments. Unlike conventional experimental facilities, iLabs can be shared and accessed widely by students and other audiences across the world that might not otherwise have the resources to purchase and operate costly or delicate lab equipment. Numerous iLabs are already online and in use worldwide, including at MIT and universities in Australia, China, and Nigeria.
The Northwestern Office of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education Partnerships, which Jona directs, is using these instruments to develop a series of iLab experiments for high school students. As part of this project, MIT is making a neutron beam experiment housed at its research nuclear reactor available to students online, and Northwestern will soon put new devices like mass spectrometers and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machines online, as well.
The Northwestern team is developing online interfaces for students to control the instruments remotely, see the devices operate via live webcam video, and visualize and analyze the experimental results.
Partners in Chicago also include Chicago Public Schools, Evanston Township High School, Museum of Science and Industry, Illinois Math and Science Academy, and Illinois Virtual High School, who will all be testing and deploying iLab remote online laboratories in their formal and informal science education programs.