The GoGreen Lab Stream- Designing effective, safe and affordable remote lab experiences
From David Joseph Goodrich on May 4th, 2021
Topic Area: Pandemic Pivot
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shift to remote teaching posed a unique challenge to courses that included a hands-on or experiential component. Left with a choice, forgo the hands-on components or get creative, we chose to get creative and develop a DIY lab stream feasible and safe for students to experience from home. In addition to sharing the lessons learned during the development and implementation of our remote lab stream (“GoGreen”) and at-home laboratory kits (“SpartanDIYBio”), our roundtable discussion will be an opportunity to collaborate and (1) curate a list of innovative laboratory streams, (2) identify the strengths and address the shortcomings of each stream, and (3) discuss approaches to evaluate the impact of these novel lab streams on student learning. GoGreen: The “GoGreen” remote lab stream was designed for the introductory cell and molecular biology course at Lyman Briggs College. Inspired by a paper in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education we created “SpartanDIYBio” kits which allowed students to perform DNA extraction, PCR, and gel electrophoresis from home. Instead of extracting DNA with a series of laboratory-grade reagents, students used household ingredients, such as salt, meat tenderizer, and rubbing alcohol. Instead of using a multi-thousand dollar thermocycler for PCR, they used affordable sous-vide machines to regulate water bath temperatures. Furthermore, student research teams used these supplies to experimentally test a unique research question pertaining to backyard or commercial vegetable production (e.g. one group aimed to detect the presence of bacteria on vegetables packaged in plastic, glass, cardboard, and an eco-friendly alternative - cornhusks).