Through the NSF Innovation Corps for Learning Program (I-Corps L), this project will develop ways to increase the scale and impact of a program that brings inexpensive hands-on microfabrication laboratories into high school science courses. Despite the dramatic and sustained increase of applications of micro- and nano-components in commercial products such as cell phones, computers, and home appliances, the US market progresses more slowly than others towards generating the associated increase in micro-/nano-manufacturing jobs. The micro- and nano-fabrication that thrives in universities and research centers oftentimes does not translate into curriculum changes at the undergraduate or high school levels. As a result, students tend to limit their view of the world to theoretical rather than experimental/applied perspectives. This project will creating educational routes to take microfabrication into high school. This work will also enable high school teachers to produce ready-to-use micro- and nano-educational materials. Through the implementation of this program, the design, fabrication, and testing of microfluidic devices can be carried out in conventional lecture rooms using benchtop materials and tools at a minimal cost of about one dollar per student per experiment.The tape-based fabrication method at the center of this project makes it possible for students to design, build, and test their own microfluidic designs. The technique is simple and inexpensive, and easy to implement. Additionally, this project will help to reduce the practical barrier faced by high school teachers by offering inexpensive and ready-to-use educational materials. Such materials will facilitate the adoption of the technique by teachers by means of experiments that relate directly to the high school curriculum (so they are easy to integrate with the courses) as well as videos of the experimental procedure, slides, pre- and post-activity questions (so that it is easy to replicate the experiments). The technology in this I-Corps L has value to high school educators in that it offers an inexpensive, accessible, and safe way to introduce microfluidics to students. By exposing students to this process, they will gain an appreciation for the possibilities of innovation, become confident in the experimental design process, and begin to understand the importance of working toward a scientific goal.
|Effective start/end date||8/15/15 → 7/31/17|
- National Science Foundation: $50,000.00
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