Physics students and staff develop ‘Lab in a Box’ experiments for home study

A student-staff innovation team in the Department of Physics has transformed bulky experiments into portable labs that can be mailed across the world.

The development of the portable experiments comes as the College prepares to reopen for a new academic year. In response to COVID-19 students will be warmly welcomed back to campuses but social distancing guidelines will mean that teaching will be delivered as a combination of on-campus (in-person) and remote learning (online) for the Autumn term, with programme-specific variations in later terms.

Imperial calls this a ‘multi-mode’ approach which means on-campus learning, including laboratory work, will be combined with the benefits of its remote counterpart. If a student is unable to travel to campus for Autumn term, the College has made plans for them to receive high-quality and engaging remote learning.

A new era

The College has been developing a wide range of innovative educational experiences for a number of years prior to the pandemic. Many of these developments have prepared staff and students well for the remote aspect of multi-mode learning, and complement the world-leading facilities that can be found on-campus.

With funding from The Royal Society, the Department of Physics team has contributed their own expertise and creativity to ensure their curriculum works well in a variety of learning environments.

A lab in every home

With the successful development of the experiments, the Department now aims to develop further ‘Boxes’, while carefully monitoring feedback on what students think of those launched at the beginning of the new academic year.

Professor David Colling, Department of Physics, said: “While I hope that we will eventually be able to return to an on-campus learning experience, it is clear that remote learning will be an important part of our teaching now and in the future.”

“Adapting to this new reality has made us all consider new ways of teaching. Condensing these experiments into such a portable format has been a real success for the project team, and I’m delighted we’ve had such significant student involvement in getting this right.”

Source: imperial (UK)

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