New HP Grant Supports Teacher Workshops for Online Remote Science Labs

New HP Grant Supports Teacher Workshops for Online Remote Science Labs


The Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP) has received a new grant from HP to develop online workshops for science teachers. SESP professor Kemi Jona, the director of OSEP, is spearheading the project as one of 15 inaugural HP Catalyst Academy Fellows

Three learning experiences, to be developed over the next year, will focus on preparing teachers to use online remote laboratories for their science classes. Through online remote laboratories, high school students can access world-class laboratory equipment online. Real instruments, rather than simulations, may be used to carry out experiments from anywhere at any time.

Unlike conventional facilities, remote online labs can be used widely by schools that do not have the resources to purchase costly lab equipment. OSEP’s current project focusing on online remote laboratories is called iLab.

An HP Catalyst Academy Fellows grant of $16,000 supports the creation of teacher professional development modules for using online remote labs.  The HP Catalyst Initiative seeks to improve K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning through a network of leading educators and education institutions who are exploring innovative approaches.

OSEP specializes in both teacher professional learning and the development of new learning technologies. The goal of OSEP is to connect K-12 teachers and students with the world-class STEM resources of Northwestern University in order to enhance education in the STEM fields.

Numerous online remote lab experiments are already in use worldwide through OSEP’s iLab project. For example, in the Powder X-Ray Diffraction iLab, one of the newest modules, students study the crystalline lattice structure of a silicone sample by remotely accessing an X-ray diffractometer located at Northwestern University. In addition, an iLab on radioactivity examines the intensity of radiation over distance, using a Geiger counter housed at the University of Queensland in Australia.

The new online teacher professional workshops will prepare educators to make effective use of remote lab experiments such as these. Studies of iLab have shown that remote online labs can overcome many common school laboratory constraints, provide more real-world scientific inquiry tasks, and support the development of learning that is better aligned with authentic science.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 3/7/17