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Aug 10, 20
2:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Virtual Research Group (VRG) Webinar- Part One
Digital Learning
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Virtual Research Group (VRG) Webinar

by Jonathan P. Singer, Rutgers University, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Piscataway, New Jersey, 08854

Introduction

A persistent dilemma facing modern education across all levels is the simultaneous resource cost and desirability of research experience as a part of a curriculum. Hands-on research experience is widely recognized as one of the most effective activities for the preparation and retention of students in STEM. High-school or undergraduate research in a lab group requires a large investment of faculty and graduate student mentoring. The closest practical analog, lab courses, require the most hours and staffing to execute. Further, lab courses often lack the key discovery-based skills that are the most central and enjoyable aspects of research.

Dr. Singer has developed Virtual Research Group (VRG) modules to simulate the investigative and non-linear discovery aspects of the research process while incorporating team management, peer-learning, project ownership, and diverse role models, without any laboratory and minimal computational resources. The basic premise of a VRG is to make use of the massive amount of available existing research from literature. Rather than conduct experiments, participants are provided with the datasets assembled from the literature from their selected experimental approach, which can then inform future virtual investigation.

Dr. Singer has run the first VRG module, on materials analysis, as an elective course in the NJ Governor’s School for Science and Engineering (NJGSET) three times, with many students reporting that the experience was as or more engaging as their actual in lab research. His colleague, Prof. Marissa Tousley (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) has also run a version of this module and two of her creation as a part of a sophomore-level undergraduate chemical engineering class four times with positive results. The goal of the workshop, which will occur in 4.5 hours over two sessions with an optional third follow up session, is to provide a shorter simulated research experience and to explore together how the research-simulation approach could be adapted to add value to STEM lesson plans.

PD certificate of participation will be provided at the end of the second webinar.

Aug 12, 20
3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Virtual Research Group (VRG) Webinar- Part Two
Digital Learning
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A persistent dilemma facing modern education across all levels is the simultaneous resource cost and desirability of research experience as a part of a curriculum. Hands-on research experience is widely recognized as one of the most effective activities for the preparation and retention of students in STEM. High-school or undergraduate research in a lab group requires a large investment of faculty and graduate student mentoring. The closest practical analog, lab courses, require the most hours and staffing to execute. Virtual Research Group (VRG) modules simulate the investigative and non-linear discovery aspects of the research process while incorporating team management, peer-learning, project ownership, and diverse role models, without any laboratory and minimal computational resources.