Fwd: computers in laboratories

Robert C. Hodson hodson at UDel.Edu
Thu Jan 20 13:36:36 EST 2000


Terry, Jon, Plant-Eders:
With support from the Howard Hughs Medical Institute my department
purchased 30 Micron laptop computers for Introductory Biology.  They are
locked to fixed laboratory benches when deployed, and when not in use they
are stored in a locked metal cabinet on wheels which can be moved with
some effort to various locations within the building.  We are thinking of
setting up permanent student 'work stations' comprised of compound and
stereo microscopes with video camera and monitor, computer connected to
the campus backbone and Internet, and spectrophotometer.  In such a state
the computers would be deployed at all times.  Laptop computers, although
more expensive than their desktop counterparts (ours were about $2200
each), provide plenty of muscle and features for teaching and have the
advantage of much smaller footprint.  Their main use has been for
collecting data from Qubit Systems, Inc. electronic probes
(photosynthesis, respiration, potometer) and in data manipulation and
presentation (Vernier, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint). At first they were used
in about one-third of the lab sessions, but we continue to find new uses
(such as one on-line investigation e.g. Virtual FlyLab) so permanent
deployment will make sense. We have not encountered problems
with spilled chemicals --- when chemicals are being used the computers are
moved temporarily to cubbyholes under the benches or are inserted into
large ziplock bags.  We have much more trouble finding protected parking
space for student backpacks!
Bob

Robert C. Hodson
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716
(302)831-8440


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