When you think of a science lab you might think of students in lab coats mixing chemicals, but that's not the case at Great Falls College MSU. In fact, there isn't even a single student in the NANSLO lab, that's because it's controlled entirely by robots.
“This lab allows us to simulate those in a real environment so students are controlling everything, but they don't have to be physically present,” Lab Manager, Dr. Brenda Canine said.
Students can access the lab anywhere with internet connection and are in total control. They log in and they are controlling an interface that can manipulate elements in the lab. Multiple students can watch the interface at the same time and they can pass control around. Each station also has a high definition camera with an online stream for students to watch live.
The lab opened in 2014 and is the only one of its kind in the U.S. This year, the NANSLO expanded their reach to high school students in rural communities.
“By giving these experiences to these students were really interesting them in the stem careers and the stem field which are the careers of the future and we'll see big expansion in those areas,” Dr. Canine said.
Students at Simms High School remotely monitored a fish tank and were able to adjust food, pH levels, and temperature around the clock.
7th grader, Mandy Widmer said, “It was easier than maybe having to drive to the college every day and having to take a picture with our phones or something like that because she makes it very easy to look at all of it.”
Widmer’s lab partner, Kierah Kriedeman agrees, she believes the NANSLO has been beneficial to her education.
“Coming from a small school you don’t get many opportunities as bigger schools because we're so far out from the city,” Kriedeman said.
Distance learning is evolving whether you're a few feet or a thousand miles away from the lab the NANSLO is opening doors for students around the world.
For more information visit Great Falls College MSU NANSLO Lab online.