Teaching Microscopes with Digital Cameras

Project Title: Teaching Microscopes with Digital Cameras

Project Lead's Name: Robert Baker

Project Lead's Email: robert.baker@MiamiOH.edu

Project Lead's Phone: 513-529-3175

Project Lead's Division: CAS

Primary Department: Biology

List Departments Benefiting or Affected by this proposal: Biology: the primary beneficiaries of this equipment will be biology majors. However, a wide range of non-majors enroll in Biology classes and so students from all three colleges and potentially every department on campus will benefit from this instructional resource.

Estimated Number of Under-Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 100

Estimated Number of Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 4

Describe the problem you are attempting to solve and your approach for solving that problem: Many labs associated with plant biology classes rely heavily upon microscopy including Introductory Plant Biology (Bio 191), Plant and Fungal Diversity (Bio 314), Plant Anatomy (Bio 402/502), Plant Development (Bio 403/503), Plant Cell Biology Laboratory (Bio 203L), Dendrology (Bio 205), and Introduction to Biotechnology (Bio 255). However, the teaching microscopes for plant laboratories are badly in need of replacement: they are old and in many cases broken or missing components. Finally, some of the existing student microscopes date to the previous century and all of them lack integrated 21st century technology such as digital cameras and wireless connectivity that will enhance teaching and student learning.

How would you describe the innovation and/or the significance of your project: Purchasing new microscopes equipped with digital cameras and capable of connecting to wireless networks will revolutionize student learning in plant biology class laboratories. To the best of my knowledge these innovative teaching tools would be the first of their kind at Miami University. In the past two decades, techniques and technology for teaching, learning, sharing, and communicating information have transformed higher education. The microscopes I propose to purchase will enable students to connect the rich history of academic excellence in plant biology at Miami University – some of our teaching slides were made by MU students and faculty almost 100 years ago – with modern teaching technology and techniques. The cameras do not require any external computers or software and as such there are limited complications concerning software incompatibilities or continuing costs such as periodically updating computers. Instead, students can capture images directly to SD cards. Alternatively, up to six mobile devices can wirelessly connect to each microscope enabling students and instructors to use phones or tablets capture digital images. Digital imaging allows students to share their work and contribute to web-based educational forums where students can ask questions about the material and interact with classmates, teaching assistants, and professors outside of regular laboratory hours or while studying for laboratory exams. In an effort to foster creativity and student engagement, Bio 314 and Bio 402/502 students will vote on the best student microscopy images each semester.

How will you assess the success of the project: The success of the project will be measured in two ways: summative and formative. Formative evaluation will be performed using mid-semester student evaluations of lab classes and the microscopy imaging systems. In addition, we will assess student enthusiasm by encouraging students to share their digital images on social media using a specific hashtag. Social media sharing events will be observed and tabulated throughout the semester. Summative evaluation will be performed using data collected from end of semester student evaluations as well as by inventorying social media posts from classes.

Total Amount Requested: $33,666.22

Budget Details: To ensure competitive pricing and comply with Miami University regulations, two additional vendors (Zeiss and Olympus) will be contacted for quotes on similar systems.

Is this a multi-year request: No

Please address how, if at all, this project impacts any of Miami's BCSAE, 2020, or divisional plans:

  • BCSAE: The proposed project will advance student learning in professional fields that are in demand in Ohio, the region, and the nation. Specifically, jobs involving higher education in the sciences are predicted to grow by 7-11% (plant biologist and environmental scientists) from 2014-2024 (based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). This new technology will advance Miami’s reputation for innovative excellence.
  • 2020 Plan: giving pairs of student the ability to generate their own digital images based on laboratory exercises will stimulate collaborative creativity and having students evaluate their own work and vote on the best imagery will foster exemplary performance.
  • CAS divisional plans: Purchasing new microscopes will help meet the first of objective of the CAS Unifying goal by to emphasizing inquiry based experiential learning during class laboratories.