News: News, NSW

MyScope Explore supports remote learning during lockdown

In response to the on-site teaching restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a multi-institutional team developed a remote scanning electron microscopy workshop for undergraduates using Microscopy Australia’s online learning environment: MyScope Explore.

MyScope Explore is an outreach module of MyScope that provides an easy-to-use scanning electron microscopy (SEM) simulator with a wide range of samples for students to explore and make guided discoveries.

Working with Microscopy Australia, Dr Natalie Holmes, and collaborators at the University of Newcastle, the University of Sydney and Western Sydney University, collected scanning electron micrographs of Maratus (Peacock) spiders that were embedded into the MyScope Explore online environment.

The team then used this content in MyScope Explore as a basis for a microscopy teaching workshop for undergraduate university students to teach them about structural and pigmented colour.

The workshop session had two main components:

  1. to use the online MyScope Explore tool to virtually image abdomen scales containing structural colour and pigmented colour features on Maratus spiders using SEM.
  2. to join a live SEM session at the Electron Microscopy & X-ray Unit via Zoom to image an actual Maratus spider.

A student using the MyScope Explore SEM simulator to examine the peacock spider sample at the remote 2020 workshop

In previous years, the undergraduate university students attending this annual workshop would enter the Electron Microscopy & X-ray Unit at the University of Newcastle to image specimens with an SEM. However, in 2020, the Electron Microscopy & X-ray Unit at the University of Newcastle, as at many institutions, was closed to student visitors, and this virtual activity was developed in order to present the educational event.

The program was highly successful and constitutes a platform that can be used in the future by universities for teaching microscopy remotely. Student engagement at the event was at a high level. Students were asked to comment on their experience, comments from the students included “Experimenting with multiple imaging settings for the SEM simulation improved my understanding of the equipment’s utility in real lab settings”.

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Ref: Holmes, N. P.; Griffith, M. J.; Barr, M. G.; Nicolaidis, N. C.; Bhatia, V.; Duncan, M.; Mccarroll, I.; Whiting, J.; Dastoor, P. C.; Cairney, J. M. Remote Learning Facilitated by MyScope Explore. Micros. Today 2021, 29, 42–48. DOI: 10.1017/S1551929521001322

 

Dr. Natalie Holmes presenting at the in-person undergraduate SEM workshop in 2019