Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 59–66 | Cite as

A Classroom-Based Distributed Workflow Initiative for the Early Involvement of Undergraduate Students in Scientific Research

Article

Abstract

Engaging freshman and sophomore students in meaningful scientific research is challenging because of their developing skill set and their necessary time commitments to regular classwork. A project called the Chondrule Analysis Project was initiated to engage first- and second-year students in an initial research experience and also accomplish several scientific objectives. Students take part in a classroom-based, distributed workflow project that aims to produce high-quality data on the physical dimensions of chondrules, mm-sized spherules contained in primitive meteorites called chondrites. Such data are needed to test astrophysical models for processes acting in the early solar system. Student investigators process X-ray microtomography data with resources contained on portable USB flash drives distributed to them. Students are exposed to data collection, data quality evaluation, interpretation, and presentation of their results. Herein, an introduction to the scientific objectives is given along with an evolutionary history of the project. A description of the current implementation of the course is presented, and future directions are discussed. Anonymous student evaluations of the course are used to demonstrate the educational and engaging nature of the project. Finally, we reflect on the possible benefits of such a project for first- and second-year students within STEM disciplines.

Keywords

Distributed workflow Undergraduate research Crowdsourcing X-ray microtomography Image processing 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryFordham UniversityBronxUSA
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Planetary SciencesAmerican Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA

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