Volume 4, Number 14 - April 22, 2014

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Pia Molina
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Teched Out: Students at professor Juan Morata's Principles of Biology Lab use the new Ipad's provided by STEMFYE which was funded by the Department of Education grant. ANGELA DELGADO\THE REPORTER

Utilizing ipads In Biology Labs Opening Doors To Scientific Wealth of Knowledge

By Pia Molina
pia.molina001@mymdc.net

Dressed in white lab coats and and safety goggles, biology students at Wolfson Campus now utilize iPads as the latest technological advancement in their lab sessions.

The use of the iPads comes from an idea by Biology Professor Juan Morata to get the students majoring in Science Technology STEM fields to become familiar with the technology that is dominating the field. In a recent Principals of Biology I Laboratory, students in Morata’s class used ipads to record data, do graphical analysis and take pictures to analyze DNA samples used in forensic science labs.

“We are going to start to bring the iPads to the lab,” Morata said, “ before they were just used in the classroom but we will use apps and instrumentation to do the whole lab on the ipad.”

Morata’s innovative idea came from a previous experiment called Learning Communities used in two upper-level biology and chemistry classes.

For STEM majors, learning communities links their class lecture with the lab and lecture professor, as well as with the same set of students.With the new iPad technology, they will be able to have two sets of lecture-lab combination as the pilot.

The technology will be used in upper level classes such as BSC2010 with experiments that will model will be able to do research such as DNA sequencing in order to see how the DNA run through gels.

“From my experience, when students have the same lab professor and lecture professor it’s always better,” Morata said, “they will be able to work as teams in four different areas.”

The students will be able to rent out the iPads for the semester and this will be their main learning instrument. The iPads will serve as their book and note taking instrument. Morata has set up a dropbox for the students to turn in all their lab information directly to him from the iPad itself.

The iPads comes as an innovative idea not only to MDC but to most universities. Only recently has technology slowly started to appear in labs and classrooms as essential instruments for education.

“We always want to encourage teachers to come up with new ideas for students to become engaged in the classroom,” said Monica Minchala, program director of the Science Technology Engineering Mathematics First Year Experience (STEMFYE). “ And with our generation growing up with technology, it is important to introduce this to the students.”

With the help of a grant provided by the STEMFYE program funded by the Department of Education, Morata’s idea was able to start its pilot during the current Spring term.

So far, the spring term pilot for the program has been seen as a success with 100 percent retention rates in the classrooms in which  it has been implanted. Morata hopes to expand the program for the upcoming Fall 2014 chemistry classes.


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