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Project Ex Cel – Web Based Sem For K 12 Education

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.815.1 - 6.815.9



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Paper Authors

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Thomas Andre

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Connie Hargrave

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Scott Chumbley

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Kristen Constant

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1526

Project ExCEL – Web-based SEM for K-12 Education

S. Chumbley, K. Constant, C.P. Hargrave, T. Andre Iowa State University


The goal of Project ExCEL, the Extended Classroom for Enhanced Learning, is to bring the capabilities of Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) into elementary and secondary classrooms. We have developed an entirely web-based interface to allow schools to control a modern SEM. The web interface allows a remote user complete control of all the operating parameters of the microscope, including stage movement and x-ray chemical analysis. Such total control currently is not available on any other system. Since pioneering the idea of remote SEM use for K-12 education in the early 1990s, we have learned that merely providing schools and teachers access to high technology equipment does not ensure that it will be used. Many teachers are too busy and their curriculum too structured to allow incorporation of the WebSEM into their lessons. Many lack knowledge in the area of SEM and do not possess confidence in their abilities to operate the instrument. To overcome these problems, MSE is working with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) to train future teachers in the use of the WebSEM. Science Education professors are incorporating the WebSEM into their courses and having selected students receive training on its use. These students then prepare lesson plans and present their work to the remainder of the class. Evaluation data from students is positive. In-service teachers receive instruction and training in the WebSEM through summer workshops. By using this integrated approach, it is hoped that all science teachers in Iowa will eventual gain the information, expertise, and confidence to use the WebSEM in their respective classrooms.

I. Introduction

In the last 40 years, the scanning electron microscope (SEM) has become an essential scientific tool in Biology, Geology, Botany, Engineering and the basic sciences. More recently, it is being considered as a valuable learning tool not only for student of the above disciplines, but also to secondary education students. With its ability to deliver crisp images with the appearance of three dimensions at high magnifications, the SEM can open a window into the microscopic world never before available. The addition of the EDS (energy dispersive spectrometer) can provide rapid chemical information to supplement the visual. Because the SEM has long been used as a single user instrument, widespread use in education has been very limited. In the early 1990’s the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Iowa State University received a National Science Foundation grant to develop new instructional methods in the SEM, making use or rapidly improving computer and computer connectivity technology. Using a computer based interface, and existing SEM was modified to allow control of the instrument from a series

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Andre, T., & Hargrave, C., & Chumbley, S., & Constant, K. (2001, June), Project Ex Cel – Web Based Sem For K 12 Education Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9687

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