Technology in the General Education Program Natural Science Laboratories

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Connelly Hall 220 and 230 are two of St. Joseph’s University’s latest technology-equipped science laboratories.  They are home to the General Education Program lab-based natural science courses for students who are not majoring in science.  Currently, these courses include “Exploring the Earth” (Env106), “Exploring the Living World” (Bio165) and “Exploring the Physical World” (Phy113).  These labs are overseen by Dr. Brian Forster, GEP Natural Science Lab Coordinator.

Both of these labs have computers at each student station.  This allows students to perform weekly experiments and use the computers to assist them in data collection and analysis.  In addition to Microsoft Office, these computers have software programs installed specific for each of the GEP lab courses.  A Leica microscope has been installed in Connelly 230.  This microscope connects directly to the room’s AV system, allowing all students to see microscopic organisms as large as life on the classroom’s projectors.  This also eliminates the need for students having to line up waiting to look through a microscope.

In “Exploring the Earth,” students use the computers to log into the SJU Biodiversity Lab’s Fish-Cam to complete an experiment on the social behavior of goldfish.  The computers also have a global climate change module, allowing students to analyze weather data.

In “Exploring the Living World,” student microscopes have a camera that links to the computer.  By taking these pictures, students learn how to measure organisms smaller than the eye can see.  Biology students use BioPacs to learn about factors that can alter heart rate.  In the ecology lab exercise, students use Bio-Sim software.  This program allows students to learn how the environment controls population size.  Students can manipulate reproductive rate and environmental factors to see how lion, meerkat and impala populations survive in a localized region.

The labs also utilize Xplorer GLX readers.  These readers are used to analyze soil and water samples that our students collected.  These samples were collected from both on and off-campus locations.  The readers will also be utilized by students taking “Exploring the Physical World” this Spring.

To learn more about these labs and their technology, please contact Dr. Brian Forster (bforster@sju.edu).

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