A logo that says MICRO, engaged laboratory learning

Making Introductory Analytical Chemistry Real While Online (MICRO Project)

The MICRO project is a collaborative project across 4 institutions (Skidmore College, University of Notre Dame, Oregon State University and The University of Iowa). The initial idea for this project was born out of the need to move undergraduate courses to a remote modality with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Laboratory learning in this modality proved challenging with students no longer able to access traditional laboratory equipment and instrumentation. While the sudden switch to distance learning brought challenges, we viewed it as an opportunity to create analytical chemistry laboratory materials that met not only the need for safe laboratory kits but also incorporated evidence-based pedagogy. Microfluidic devices are convenient for at-home learning because they require very small amounts of solvent, making them safe and easy to ship. This effort also provided an opportunity to promote guided-inquiry and open-inquiry laboratory experiments rather than the traditional “cookbook” style laboratory experiments that still dominate in chemistry laboratory curricula despite efforts to shift to a greater emphasis on science practices. Microfluidic devices are inexpensive and run quickly, so students have the freedom to repeat experiments as needed without worrying about trying something that may not work, supporting scientific practices such as experimental design and analysis. Thus, an additional goal for the MICRO project is to provide support and encouragement to faculty to shift from using traditional “cookbook” style laboratory experiments to using inquiry-based laboratory experiments. Through this project we will assess how faculty beliefs and instructional practices change through their involvement in the MICRO project.

a row of colored bubbles showing a concentration gradient


To learn more about the project or view laboratory materials visit the MICRO website: https://sites.google.com/view/micro-engaged-lab-learning/home

This project is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Science Foundation #1624956 and #2037528