Remote SEM Operation for in Class Observation and Identification of Mineral Specimens

Tuesday 2:40pm-3:00pm Northrop Hall: 116
Teaching Demonstration Part of Tuesday Session A


Christopher Vidito, Florida International University
Jeffrey Ryan, University of South Florida
Mary Beck, Valencia Community College


The scanning electron microscope housed at the FCAEM will be operated remotely at the EER. Mineral specimens will be observed and analyzed by the presenters and by members of the audience.

If attending this session, please bring an internet-capable device such as a smart phone, tablet, or laptop.


The aim of this NSF Transforming Undergraduate Education (TUES) project is to engage students in class activities through the remote use of research instrumentation housed at the Florida Center for Analytical Electron Microscopy (FCAEM). Participants expect to transition students from passive learners to self-directed investigators. In this demonstration, we will be operating the JEOL JSM-5900 LV Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) over the internet. Minerals will be viewed in secondary electrons (SE) to observe physical properties such as habit, fracture, and cleavage. Backscattered electrons (BSE) will be used to observe density and compositional variations by changes in grey scale color. Audience members will be given the opportunity to work with these minerals in SE or BSE and perform chemical analyses using the Energy Dispersive Spectrometer (EDS). The protocol for this exercise is given at: and has been applied in the FIU class GLY 3202L Earth Materials. Majority of the students who did this, and other activities in Earth Materials using electron microscopy, have been surveyed and they indicated that the experience had furthered their understanding of both the course material and science.

**If attending this session, please bring an internet-capable device such as a smart phone, tablet, or laptop.


The SEM is used remotely in geology classes for majors and non-majors in both lectures and laboratory sections. The use of remote research instrumentation permits students to generate real data in real time while removing the barriers of owning research instrumentation. Students collect data with the SEM, coupled with hand specimen observations, to identify the minerals of interest. At the EER we will be using all the capabilities of the SEM to make mineral identifications.

Why It Works

Remote use of the SEM engages the students in their classroom activities and allows them to investigate relevant materials in greater depth than by lecture or lab alone. The remote capabilities at FCAEM allows the SEM to be controlled from any PC and classroom with an internet connection.

Presentation Media

Student Assignment (Microsoft Word 32kB Jul14 17)