Bringing the lab home: Ecology instructor discusses plans for remote delivery in September

Challenging problems require creative solutions, explains ecology instructor Melissa Roach.

Katie Willis - 24 June 2020

Delivering classes and labs remotely in Fall 2020 requires some creative solutions. 

“Luckily, scientists are some of the most creative problem-solvers in the world, and our passion and excitement for teaching is driving us to create meaningful remote learning opportunities for our students in the fall,” said Melissa Roach, ecology lab coordinator in the University of Alberta’s Department of Biological Sciences

“Know that our goal as teachers is to inspire your curiosity about science and that this goal remains the same regardless of the delivery method for fall term. We are rising to the challenge and hope you will too.”

Roach is exploring the possibility of bringing the lab to the students, identifying experiments that can be done at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. While some of the details are still in the works, there are many clever and inventive options—such as a mark and recapture sampling experiment using Skittles.

“Normally in the lab we would use living bean beetles. We mark them, reintroduce them into the total population, and then do a ‘recapture’ to see how many marked beetles we collect from the entire population,” explained Roach. “This type of sampling strategy is used to estimate total population sizes. In the home-lab version, students will use different colored candies to represent marked beetles."

The global COVID-19 pandemic has required a mass migration to the digital world, and post-secondary learning is no exception. As the University of Alberta prepares to continue delivering course content primarily remotely in the Fall 2020, the Faculty of Science has connected with some of our top instructors and scientists to illustrate what the university experience will look like in the Fall 2020 term. While delivery may look different, what remains the same is our strong commitment to an engaging and quality education and experience for our students.

“There are many active learning strategies that I have wanted to try with students, and many of these are actually quite well-suited to remote delivery, so I am excited to try them out and see how they work,” Roach added. 

Hear more about Roach’s plans for Fall 2020. 

Learn more about how the University of Alberta is preparing to engage students for September and beyond on our Fall 2020 hub. 

Students, faculty, and staff can stay up-to-date with the latest information on COVID-19 for the campus community online.