Internet of Things (IOT) Enabled Paradigms for Online Chemistry Labs

Concurrent Session 2
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Brief Abstract

This presentation describes actual IOT enhanced online chemistry labs where students in Zoom breakout rooms collaboratively designed experiments, gathered data and analyzed results while working in Google Docs and Sheets.  We will demonstrate in real time an IOT-enhanced online lab, while going over multiple paradigms for their use in academia.

Extended Abstract

The Internet of Things (IOT) refers to the digital networking of physical objects or "things" embedded with computers, software, actuators and physical sensors. This generates a new relationship between humans with computers and physical devices that has been postulated as web 4.0 or the "symbiotic web".  The COVID-19 pandemic has placed extra challenges on academic science teaching labs that typically require hands-on activities with students in close proximity to each other and instructors, as students access equipment and perform experiments. This presentation is on the application of IOT technologies to remote learning and we will demonstrate some of the paradigms for running IOT enhanced online chemistry labs.  In addition to initiating a discussion of IOT paradigms for remote labs we also seek to discuss the issue of safety in remote labs, and the importance of integrating safety into the online laboratory curriculum. Throughout the presentation we will be covering open education resources on IOT that we have developed and made available to the public through the LibreText HyperLibrary.

The IOT-enhanced remote labs we are reporting on are made possible through the use of $35 Raspberry Pi microcomputers connected to a variety of sensors (pressure, temperature, pH,...) that are connected to the internet and can be used in multiple disciplines.  The software resources we developed are open source and posted on the instructional resources section of the Summer 2020 UALR general chemistry LibreText lab manual. We posted to LibreTexts a second course on the "Internet of Science Things" that introduces students to Python programming and how to set up a Raspberry Pi, download and install an open source operating system, build basic circuits and run code to operate them. This additional OER can assist schools in implementing IOT-enhanced science labs.

The resources within LibreText include collaborative online activities involving hands-on experiments, virtual labs and simulations (Phet and ChemCollective), in addition to IOT enabled data streams, where students design experiments, gather data and analyze the results. These activities were performed in Zoom breakout rooms where students collectively worked on Google Docs and Sheets that were integrated into their LibreText lab manual. Although the experiments we ran involved a TA streaming data to the class through a Google Sheet in real time, we will demonstrate a different paradigm where students use their own Raspberry Pi and sensors to stream data to group-specific tabs on a class Google Sheet, where the front page is a dashboard automatically graphing each group's data as they generate it. This realtime IOT-enhanced lab demonstration will involve participants at SUNY Brockport, the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis and the University of Arkansas Little Rock.

By connecting laboratory devices across the internet, IOT enables advances in the science curriculum that can be of great value to online learning in all STEM disciplines. Interested parties are welcome to check our Google group devoted to IOT in STEM, https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/iosted where they can meet other interested parties and find additional resources.