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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Eight year experience in open ended instrumentation laboratory
Author(s): Manuel B. Marques; Carla C. Rosa; Paulo V. S. Marques

Paper Abstract

When designing laboratory courses in a Physics Major we consider a range of objectives: teaching Physics; developing lab competencies; instrument control and data acquisition; learning about measurement errors and error propagation; an introduction to project management; team work skills and scientific writing. But nowadays we face pressure to decrease laboratory hours due to the cost involved. Many universities are replacing lab classes for simulation activities, hiring PhD. and master students to give first year lab classes, and reducing lab hours. This leads to formatted lab scripts and poor autonomy of the students, and failure to enhance creativity and autonomy. In this paper we present our eight year experience with a laboratory course that is mandatory in the third year of Physics and Physical Engineering degrees. Since the students had previously two standard laboratory courses, we focused on teaching instrumentation and giving students autonomy. The course is divided in two parts: one third is dedicated to learn computer controlled instrumentation and data acquisition (based in LabView); the final 2/3 is dedicated to a group project. In this project, the team (2 or 3 students) must develop a project and present it in a typical conference format at the end of the semester. The project assignments are usually not very detailed (about two or three lines long), giving only general guidelines pointing to a successful project (students often recycle objectives putting forward a very personal project); all of them require assembling some hardware. Due to our background, about one third of the projects are related to Optics.

Paper Details

Date Published: 8 October 2015
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 9793, Education and Training in Optics and Photonics: ETOP 2015, 979327 (8 October 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2223201
Show Author Affiliations
Manuel B. Marques, Univ. do Porto (Portugal)
INESC TEC (Portugal)
Carla C. Rosa, Univ. do Porto (Portugal)
INESC TEC (Portugal)
Paulo V. S. Marques, Univ. do Porto (Portugal)
INESC TEC (Portugal)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9793:
Education and Training in Optics and Photonics: ETOP 2015

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