SBIR Phase II: Development of a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) Simulator for Use in Education
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AbstractThis SBIR Phase II project will result in a low cost PC based interactive scanning electron microscope (iSEM) simulator incorporated into modules to enhance existing science curricula. Although the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) is an essential scientific tool and has major impact on our nation's industrial competitiveness, its utilization in education has been modest. Only a handful of high schools in the U.S. have access to instrumentation of this nature, and availability at colleges and universities at the undergraduate level is limited. The premise of this project is that the essence of microscopy instruments can be captured in a software-based simulator running on a personal computer such that entire classrooms can become virtual laboratories, with each student exploring a lesson using microscope-simulator software coupled with appropriate imagery and lesson material. The researchers will use the FERA (Focus, Explore, Reflect, Apply) Learning Cycle model to develop iSEM enhancement modules and supporting materials to extend current curricula such as the National Science Resources Center's Science and Technology for Children (STC) and the Lawrence Hall of Science series of Full Option Science System (FOSS) and will include a component of professional development. The iSEM will not only enable schools to perform more sophisticated scientific experiments and help schools meet the standards mandate, it will also help prepare students for joining tomorrow's workforce in this evolving age of nanotechnology. The educational component of the project that will be developed is inquiry-based, encourages explorations and is inexpensive enough that schools and students can afford to purchase it.
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