P607: Transforming STEM education at small rural colleges: Incorporation of remote access spectroscopy and chromatography to create an authentic laboratory environment
Small two-year and four-year colleges face the challenge of how to incorporate modern instrumentation into their curricula. Because of the considerable distance between colleges in the Northern Plains Region, exposure to instrumentation must be accomplished by means other than a typical site visit. To address these challenges, the North Dakota State College of Science established a remote access instrumentation network, consisting of NMR, IR, GC-MS, GC, and HPLC-each can be completely operated over the Internet. The instrumentation network aims to transform how smaller colleges approach educating students in STEM programs by providing authentic laboratory experiences instead of relying on simulations and published data. Students enrolled in introductory, general, and organic chemistry, regardless of their location, directly operate each instrument to analyze their own generated samples. Inquiry-based laboratory activities and research-based projects were developed and implemented into the NDSCS curriculum to enhance the authenticity of the laboratory experience. An online experiment database and discussion forum encourages collaboration between the remote instructors. The presentation will highlight the successes and challenges with the design of the remote access instrumentation network and the impact to student learning and engagement.