The goal of Project ExCEL, the Extended Classroom for Enhanced Learning, is to bring the capabilities of Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) into elementary and secondary classrooms. We have developed an entirely web-based interface to allow schools to control a modern SEM. The web interface allows a remote user complete control of all the operating parameters of the microscope, including stage movement and x-ray chemical analysis. Such total control currently is not available on any other system. Since pioneering the idea of remote SEM use for K-12 education in the early 1990s, we have learned that merely providing schools and teachers access to high technology equipment does not ensure that it will be used. Many teachers are too busy and their curriculum too structured to allow incorporation of the WebSEM into their lessons. Many lack knowledge in the area of SEM and do not possess confidence in their abilities to operate the instrument. To overcome these problems, MSE is working with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) to train future teachers in the use of the WebSEM. Science Education professors are incorporating the WebSEM into their courses and having selected students receive training on its use. These students then prepare lesson plans and present their work to the remainder of the class. Evaluation data from students is positive. In-service teachers receive instruction and training in the WebSEM through summer workshops. By using this integrated approach, it is hoped that all science teachers in Iowa will eventual gain the information, expertise, and confidence to use the WebSEM in their respective classrooms.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/connie-hargrave/2/