Hands-On Labs

United States, Minerva at Keck Graduate Institute
Hands-On Labs


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Project Overview

The ongoing global pandemic due to COVID-19 highlighted how important remote education is. In fact, online education investments are supposed to grow to reach $350 billion by 2025, compared to $18.66 billion in 2019 (Li, 2020). Additionally, as remote education keeps gaining popularity, several institutes worldwide are considering the switch to remote learning even after the pandemic is gone. This consideration came after remote education proved how it could minimize running costs while reaching more students (Nortajuddin, 2020). However, as the industry keeps growing, the challenges are also highlighted; thus, leaving students frustrated and concerned about the future of their education (Haddadi, 2020). Many students reported a lack of "Hands-on lab experience" as their primary deterrent from online and remote education (Colman, 2020). This factor is even more significant for the more practical fields of study. For example, engineering, medicine, and science. While many online courses offer recorded or live videos showing lab work being done, students highlighted that nothing beats the experience resulting from using the lab equipment, making mistakes, and finally watching the results of your effort coming to life (Traft, 2020). Hands-on Labs is a set of remote laboratories that allows students to observe and remotely control various physical tools online in real-time for their courses. Depending on the curriculum, students can choose among different remote laboratories and book a time-slot on the website. On their desired time slot, instructors can add any number of students and assign various permissions for each student. For a robotics/coding course, for example, once the student's log-in to the website, they will be able to use a six-degrees of freedom robotic arm, upload their code/input and change the angles of the joints of the physical robot arm and observe the robot arm executing their commands in real-time. The platform also allows users an unprecedented control level over various aspects such as lighting levels, camera angles, audio controls, various control modes, etc. A deep understanding of the market landscape and the psychological factors involved in students' choices is needed to build that set of virtual labs. This project explores how a realistic and convenient remote lab experience can significantly improve students' educational experience across various age groups, geographies, and specialties. To measure the added benefit for students, a virtual robotics lab was initially designed and built to work with the Minerva Schools' at Keck Graduate Institute online classroom. A rigorous testing process that involves both quantitative and qualitative evaluation of students’ performance change is currently ongoing.

About Team

Ahmed Kamel is a full stack web developer that has extensive experience with robotics and 3D printing. He is also a certified SolidWorks mechanical designing professional. Ahmed has been studying artificial intelligence and brand management at Minerva Schools at KGI. Ahmed was a finalist at the World Robotics Olympiad for two consecutive years and in 2014, he was ranked as one of the top 15 among 25,000 participants from all over the world. In 2016, his self-starter work ethic inspired him to work as a robotics teacher and he coached six middle school students throughout their journey with robotics. After one year of hard work, the students won the third place and Best Robot Design Award at the World Adolescent Robotics Contest among more than 300 international teams. Bukle Unaldi is a published author working in the research field on neuroscience and effective communication for a while. Her first book was published when she was 17 and recognized by one of the most distinguished education columnists in Turkey. Later on, she presented her book at CNN Turk and held an autograph session at the International Book Fair in Istanbul. She studied Neuroscience and Arts & Literature at Minerva Schools at KGI and took additional neuromarketing courses during college. Pursuing her research interest, she has worked as an intern at the Neurolinguistics lab of Humboldt University and became a guest scientist at Charite University Medicine, in Berlin. Currently, she is a research assistant at Dr Daniel Levitin’s neuroscience lab. Together, Bukle and Ahmed complete each other as each satisfies a different aspect of the project as well as having experienced the education field from the front seat at various locations in the world. They both have been traveling the world together, thus had the chance to teach children with different backgrounds in Washington DC, a small village in Japan, Seoul, South Korea, and Egypt. Knowing the education field inside-out allows them to notice several weaknesses of our current education system while their different skill sets contribute to solving many aspects of the problem. Both of them, studying in a hybrid university that implements active learning, have learned the importance of a ‘hands-on learning experience’. Having worked with middle and high-schoolers for more than a year, they also learned the importance of getting immediate feedback and working with hardware. Combined with the COVID crisis, the team is ready to tackle the most up-to-date challenges that our education system is facing today. In order to solve the mobility and lack of active learning problems in the education system, each team member plays a crucial role by bringing their skills and perspectives to the table. While Ahmed carries out crucial technical parts and hardware, Bukle manages the relevant background research and polishes marketing material. Their combined efforts in improving the world for the next generations have been recognized at Hack The Crisis Iceland Hackathon that was sponsored by the Ministry of Education of Iceland, by being awarded first place in the Education category.

Technologies we are looking to use in our projects

3D Printing
App Services (Mobile & Web
Bots and Robotics
Internet of Things (IoT

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