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Wednesday, May 23 • 11:00am - 11:35am
Toward Lifelong Science: Problem-Based Learning Using Open-Source Hardware

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We are challenged to have the time for our students to tackle truly open-ended problems that have the potential to generate novel data and insight. In science, hands-on experiences frequently utilize expensive equipment, which may not be accessible to many of our graduates. Within the small enrollment course Earth and Planetary Sciences 360: Instrumentation and Field Methods, students first gain foundational skills in electronics and programming using the inexpensive open-source Arduino microcontroller platform. Starting in Week 3, I incorporate a problem-based learning framework as students focus on a problem of their choosing within the areas of monitoring environmental mass or energy flux. The real-time output from the sensors on the Arduino platform is a critical part of the exploration and troubleshooting, as the students learn to advance even when several parts of the system are still unknown. This course can be an extremely steep and uncomfortable learning experience for the students, but they gain a strong sense of ownership as they generate primary data using equipment that they build themselves. My broader goal is to help develop the next generation of scientists, who are empowered to tackle our intensifying global challenges, all while access to funding and other resources declines.

avatar for Patricia A. Beddows

Patricia A. Beddows

Assistant Professor of Instruction, Assistant Chair, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Northwestern University

Wednesday May 23, 2018 11:00am - 11:35am CDT
RB 175

Attendees (5)