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NEXUS Laboratories

Page history last edited by Joe Redish 3 years, 8 months ago

 BERG Homepage  > Project NEXUS Homepage



Some of the materials that this page links to are for instructors only. If you receive a "Permission Denied" response to clicking on a link, please request access in the box at the upper right and indicate that you are an instructor.


A publication describing these laboratories in more detail is:


The Scientific Community Labs

We refer to the laboratories in this course as Scientific Community Laboratories (SCL). The idea is that we are attempting to create, in the small, a model of real experimental science. This means that since in experimental science you often have to create and design your own experiments and analysis to answer a question, these labs will have a setup or situation, but students are not provided with a detailed protocol -- told what to do step-by-step (as in many other science labs). Instead, they are asked a question and have to design, carry out, and analyze their data in support of answering that questions. And since science is a community effort, an important part of the lab is sharing and discussing their results with their  colleagues.


This version of the SCL for Physics 131 emphasizes motion relevant for biological systems and in particular the difference between coherent and random motions. For this, one of the tools you will use is an Amscope Model IN300TC-3M phase-contrast inverted microscope (magnification up to 400X) with a 3 megapixel CCD camera that can capture still images and video. You will be introduced to one of the professional image analysis tools of the biological research community, ImageJ, and will analyze your data in Excel. The image on the right illustrates a lab in which students explore the competition between random motion due to thermal forces and motion due to an external field at small scales.


Many of these labs require considerable effort from students and require more than a single week to complete. In order to keep the effort devoted to labs at a reasonable level, we recommend that students work in groups with assigned roles and prepare their lab reports during the lab period itself. The structure of this is described in the documents linked in the next section.


Overview and requirements documents

Since many students and instructors have only had experience in carrying out protocol-driven labs, we have prepared documents to help reframe the goals and methods of the labs. It is essential that the lab facilitators (instructors, teaching assistants, or peer instructors) be aware of the goals and methods of the lab and help the students understand what is expected of them. Since many students are driven by grading, we also provide advice on grading the lab reports.






The laboratory activities




Technical skills documents 

Pre-reading and reference documents on the use of Excel, ImageJ, the microscope, and error propagation for the students to read before the relevant lab. (See list of labs in each course for the associated readings.)



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