No lab access? Doing student research projects at home during a pandemic: MicroCPD Transcript
For the third year practical research project for the Biomedical Materials Science course this past year I devised a programme of work that the students could do at home. This encompassed developing their own biomaterials concepts and testing bioplastics or biopolymers that they made at home using common kitchen equipment and food grade ingredients.
The students had mentors throughout the time and numerous small achievable submissions, as well as a final dissertation. As one option to enable a dialogue with the students and to encourage them I set up a module Instagram account. This has hosted all the materials for the testing, for example many ‘how to’ videos and explanations. To encourage the students to engage with the project I also completed experiments and posted directly to the account on a regular basis. I then monitored the account daily and interacted with the students posting.
Many of the students opted to make an Instagram account specifically for the module and there was varied take up and posting. There were interactions between staff, students, contributors from outside the university and also others not affiliated with the programme but with interest in bioplastics and biomaterials. It was an easy way to interact with the students in an informal way, to contribute to their progress, engage them with the content of the module and illustrate how their research was contributing to the wider community.