iLab Project Wins Innovations in Networking Award

iLab Project Wins Innovations in Networking Award


A paradigm shift in the way students experience science labs

The iLabs program of the Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP)  received the prestigious 2013 Innovations in Networking Award for Educational Applications. The award highlights innovations with the potential to revolutionize instruction and research by leveraging ultra-high bandwidth networking. It is given by the Corporation for Educational Network Initiatives in California (CENIC). 

CENIC called iLabs “a paradigm shift” in the way students and teachers experience high school science labs. By remotely placing expensive lab equipment in the hands of students, iLabs exposes students to “real world” science environments. 

To date, iLabs has provided almost 6,000 high school students and teachers in the United States and around the world with opportunities to design scientific experiments that make use of world-class remote laboratory equipment online that would otherwise never be available to them. “The iLab Network demonstrates how Internet2 broadband can level the playing field and make world-class STEM education possible for all students, regardless where they live,” says Kemi Jona, OSEP director and iLabs developer.  

For example, iLabs gives students access to a Geiger counter at Australia’s University of Queensland in an exploration of what is known in physics as the inverse square law. More simply put, they investigate first hand how  the intensity of radiation changes in relationship to the distance from the radiation source. 
Because iLabs are available outside regular hours, students are able to carry out their assignments from any location with Internet access. With the ability to link to remote equipment from their home computers, they can rethink and refine the parameters and variables of the experiments they design and run multiple trials of an experiment. 
“That’s simply impossible to do in a typical 45-minute school lab session,” says Jona. “iLabs enrich science and engineering education by personalizing the lab experience. They allow teachers to more productively use class time they increase the scope of experiments that students can conduct.”
The iLab Network Project is supported by the National Science Foundation and a grant from Hewlett-Packard. Part of the School of Education and Social Policy, OSEP connects K-12 students and teachers to the world-class science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) resource of Northwestern University and beyond. For more information about iLabs, visit 
CENIC Innovations in Networking Awards are given annually to highlight exemplary innovations that leverage ultra high-bandwidth networking, particularly where those innovations have the potential to revolutionize the ways in which instruction and research are conducted or where they further the deployment of broadband in underserved areas. 
Bottom photo: High school science students remotely access this x-ray diffractometer located at Northwestern University for an iLab experiment.
By Wendy Leopold
Last Modified: 3/7/17