Materials Science and Engineering Video Series on Safety, Instrument Operation, and Outreach Topics - Project Summary *
M. Manno1, L.F. Francis1, M. Jetter2, D. Lindeman3, and K.J. Wilcox3 1
Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities 2 Center for Education Innovation, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities 3 Academic Technology Support Services, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities * Corresponding Author (e-mail: [email protected]
As part of a recently completed 40,000 sq. ft. expansion to Amundson Hall, the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science has facilitated the construction of a new 3,000 sq. ft. undergraduate materials science teaching laboratory. This new teaching facility, capable of educating 100 - 120 students per year, provides practical instruction in materials science and engineering concepts through the use of more than 30 unique pieces of equipment. With the ability now to house comfortably all four upper-level materials science and engineering laboratory courses (i.e., MatS 3801, MatS 3851W, MatS 4221, and MatS 4301W) in this new teaching facility, instructors involved with these courses realized it was now also the ideal time to modernize the teaching paradigm for these courses. As one would expect, these four laboratory courses rely heavily on written documentation describing instrument operation, experimental procedure, and safety protocols. While these written documents attempt to provide all the necessary information to complete each experiment effectively and safely, these documents fall short in actually demonstrating equipment operation and safe working practices. Thus students did not have a direct means to observe instrument operation or safety protocols prior to entering the laboratory. Anecdotally, it was found that while students often understood the theoretical backings of each experiment, they fell short in appreciating the actual experimental procedure (e.g., equipment location, instrument operation, and safe operating practices) prior to arriving for their laboratory session. This ultimately led to a deficiency in student readiness for each experiment. The new teaching space has created an opportunity for us to finally address this issue since the laboratory space has been outfitted with either newly purchased or heavily modified 1
equipment. This has forced us to examine and rebuild each of the nearly 30 laboratory experiments offered in our department. It was at this time that our course instructors were awarded an Experiments in Learning Innovation (ELI) grant to create a video series that emphasizes instrument operation, analysis of data, safety protocols, and provides motivational videos for scientific outreach. The goals of these videos are not to replace our written laboratory handouts, but rather supplement and complement these documents. This will allow students to receive educational information via two different forms of media. As one would expect, the creation of this video series that has the necessary size and scope needed for our teaching laboratory is a significant task in terms of both time and effort. Fortuitously, with our award we were partnered with the University’s Academic Technology Support Services (ATSS), who specialize in helping faculty members incorporate technology in academics. For this particular project, ATSS has provided us the equipment, direction, production knowledge, and support in creating our teaching videos. In order to become accustomed to scripting and starring in videos, we first created two videos of particular importance for our students: a laboratory tour video, and a laboratory safety video. The tour video is designed to be an introductory video for students to become familiar with the location of our laboratory space, basic safety requirements when working in the laboratory, and the location of numerous pieces of equipment. Furthermore, this video has been useful in informing alumni who are no longer in the local area of our new teaching space. The laboratory safety video is of particular importance as it visually demonstrates the safety protocols that must be followed in the laboratory. While this video is not designed to cover all safety protocols for each piece of equipment (i.e., specific safety rules for a particular instrument will be included with its respective instrumentation video), it does inform students of the location of personal protective equipment (also known as “PPE”), eye wash stations, showers, medical supplies, personal belonging storage shelves, standard operating procedures for instruments, our material safety data sheet (MSDS) binder, and how to safely exit the teaching laboratory in case of an emergency. This video has been highly successful for our department, and is now required viewing for each student before first entering the laboratory space. For instance, this video is now shown during the first week of instruction for both of our junior level laboratory courses (i.e., MatS 3801 and MatS 3851W). In order to assess the effectiveness of this safety video, we now require students to answer questions related to the safety video during a midterm exam in 2
our MatS 3801 course. Overall, student scores on laboratory safety have been high and anecdotally all students have been following the safety rules laid out in this video. In addition to these two professionally made videos, we have also made significant strides in instructor- and student-created videos. For example, L.F. Francis has created a series of “short” videos that cover various topics that students will encounter in the senior laboratory courses. The topics addressed in these videos are more limited in scope than the professionallymade videos with ATSS. Often these short videos cover topics such as explaining the theoretical backings of a particular experiment or in demonstrating how to analyze a particular dataset. Furthermore we have also purchased a line of “prosumer” video and audio recording equipment to allow students to record observable data easily when performing an experiment. Students will then be able to use these videos for data analysis, report writing, and presentations. While we have not implemented these pieces of equipment yet for the students, we plan on introducing these tools during the Fall 2016 / Spring 2017 school year. One of the biggest challenges that we had during our grant startup period was appropriating the necessary time and resources to the video project, while also building a fulltime teaching laboratory that was concurrently being actively used for the laboratory courses. This did lead to some unique challenges in determining when it was appropriate to create instrument operation videos on equipment that were themselves undergoing significant revisions. Because of this, the number of videos produced at the time of this summary is lower than what our original intentions were. However, with our teaching space now fully outfitted, we are making substantial progress in creating equipment-based videos. With more than 30 videos needing to be created to cover all experiments, the collaboration between the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and ATSS is a long-term commitment that will continue beyond the Experiments in Learning Innovation award period. Currently we have two instrument operation videos that are ready to be filmed, and we have begun drafting scripts for two more instrument operation videos. Furthermore, M. Manno has begun planning a possible video series on instructing students how to utilize the professional figure creation software Origin® by OriginLab. In short, we feel that the videos created so far set an important precedent in how we are evolving our teaching paradigm in the Materials Science Undergraduate Program to be more 3
technology focused. Both the professionally-produced and “short” instructor-led videos we have created so far have impacted our students positively, and have encouraged our instructors to incorporate new forms of instructional media into our courses. We believe that our new video series perfectly complements the innovative changes that we have in store for our new teaching space, which ultimately will lead to stronger and more educationally diverse students.