The ability to make real analytical use of research instrumentation in the classroom via remote operation technologies has the potential to both facilitate instruction and support the intellectual transition of undergraduate geoscience students from passive learner to investigator. However, training students in the use of complex analytical instrumentation is a significant time-sink and potential distraction from learning geoscience content. We make use of electron microprobe analysis as part of a term project in my Mineralogy/Petrology course on the petrogenesis of metamorphic rocks from the southern Appalachians. To try and get past the instrument-training obstacle, I conduct an extended whole-class activity, running the microprobe live in front of the students to introduce the instrument, its tools and functions, and its quirks and limitations. Beyond a simple demonstration I also have the students direct me in the operation of the microprobe to analyze and identify minerals in an unknown sample, to show them how the instrument is used to investigate a sample, and where the hang-ups and easy mistakes are in trying to conduct EDS or WDS analyses. This attempt at a "group training" activity aims to make students more comfortable when they get the opportunity to run the instrument themselves to collect mineral chemistry data on samples they have collected. The attached documents: a "script" for using the remotely operable FIU-FCAEM electron microprobe in a whole class demonstration and interactive session, along with a simple exercise for translating microprobe data to mineral formulas,


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    Higher Education,NSDL_SetSpec_380601,Geology,Undergraduate (Upper Division),Geochemistry,oai:nsdl.org:2200/20100703191607541T,Vocational/Professional Development Education,Chemistry,Geoscience,Graduate/Professional,NSDL



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