Using Research Instrumentation as a Teaching Tool in Geosciences Through Remote and On-site Operation

Wednesday 3:00pm Northrop Hall: 116


Christopher Vidito, Florida International University
Jeffrey Ryan, University of South Florida
Rosemary Hickey-Vargas, Florida International University
Dr. James MacDonald, Florida Gulf Coast University
Mary Beck, Valencia Community College
Dr. Sven Holbik, Valencia Community College
Remotely operated research instrumentation as a pedagogical tool in geosciences is the focus of this study. The goals of this intervention are to engage students in scientific inquiry and to further their understanding of their class activities using the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and/or the Electron Micro Probe Analyzer (EPMA). These instruments were operated from the Florida Center for Analytical Electron Microscopy (FCAEM) at Florida International University. Initially three other institutions were involved in this TUES NSF project: University of South Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, and Valencia College. Since its inception in 2013, the project has expanded to include seven additional colleges. Remote faculty access the instruments over the internet to teach courses for both Geoscience majors and non-majors.
At FIU, the SEM and EPMA are used to enhance teaching of Earth Materials (GLY 3202). For this class, three active-learning projects were adapted to allow students to use the instruments. In one lab, the objective was mineral identification with the SEM. Students noted physical attributes of 10 minerals shown in secondary electrons and compositional variations in backscattered electrons. Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) was employed to obtain the chemical composition of the minerals. In another, the EPMA was used to obtain quantitative data of olivine from a volcanic sample in order to interpret its crystallization temperature. In a final project, students were given unknown rocks of igneous, sedimentary, hydrothermal and metamorphic origin. Working in groups, they first designed a strategy to identify the minerals and rocks using techniques they had learned, and then carried that out with guidance from the instructor. Most students surveyed from this FIU class indicated their experience with the EPMA/SEM gave them greater confidence in their understanding of science as a result of collecting and interpreting data and that it facilitated learning of the course material.

Presentation Media

C Vidito EER Remote Research Instrumentation Talk (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 29MB Jul19 17)

Presentation Media

C Vidito EER Remote Research Instrumentation Talk (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 29MB Jul18 17)