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How do you teach a lab course under COVID-19 restrictions?

Nataliya Starostina
Adjunct Lecturer, School of Engineering

Last spring, I had to come up with a new way to teach MECH 333B [Experimental Analysis in Materials Science: Experimental design and analysis for evaluating materials properties. In this course, students work in teams to design and implement experiments, record and interpret results and prepare a final report]. Students signed up for MECH 333B as per the course catalogue.

However, since this course is a hands-on learning experience that focuses on data acquisition, it’s impossible to teach as announced due to the COVID restrictions. I had to readjust the course to focus on data analysis instead. This is only possible if image analysis software is available for download or online so students can perform data analysis in the convenience of their home.

Nataliya Starostina
Slides from a student’s final presentation in Starostina’s MECH 333C course, designed specifically to teach topics typically covered in a hands-on lab.

Oxford Instruments was very accommodating to my requests to provide a limited time edition for EDS analysis that was free of charge for every student. I did not think I would be so lucky. As a result, a new course is borne: MECH 333C.

While not in the course catalogue at the moment, 333C is a great addition to the 333 series as it makes it very complete and well rounded.

Oxford Instruments featured my approach as Innovative in their blog, “How do you teach a lab course under COVID-19 restrictions?

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