iLabs are an emerging online tool that provides new opportunities for the delivery of science laboratory experiences. The iLab Network provides teachers and pre-college age students with remote access via web browser to laboratory equipment housed at universities and research labs that would otherwise be unavailable to outside users. This access enables teachers and students to design and conduct their own experiments using authentic high-end scientific instruments. Use of iLabs has been shown to promote more authentic scientific investigation practices by providing real data from self-guided inquiries.
NU-MRSEC is collaborating with the Northwestern Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP) to connect an X-ray powder diffraction machine from the J.B. Cohen X-Ray Diffraction Facility to the remote iLab network and develop curriculum for high school- and college-level experiments. Furthermore, NU-MRSEC has partnered with the Francis W. Parker School in Chicago who will serve as a test audience of these Materials Science iLab curricular modules.