Remote laboratory: Definition

We can define a remote laboratory as a student that remotely controls a process and/or device through a network. Under this scheme, the student uses and controls the available resources in a laboratory, by means of the use of sensors and instrumentation to undertake actual interaction with real equipment, instead of using programs that simulate the processes that want to be observed and studied.  

To show the importance, interest and usability of the use and application of remote laboratories in classrooms, we are going to develop a remote lab job in the field of biology, having into account that most of the works and applications of remote labs are focused in the field of physics, mathematics and engineering, it is very novel to apply this type of experimentation over living elements where all the parameters cannot be controlled as a physical structure. It is key the fact that the lifetime of the living being can be observed from the beginning until the end. This implies that the designed experience has to fulfil a set of requirements that make it interesting. Furthermore, they have to allow the student and lecturer a means to follow it.

1.      The experience has to be followed in an spatio-temporal manner so that we can study, observe and collect data of the elements under observation in two facets.

2.      With the presence of distinct sensors that transmit the information gathered in each observation instant from the physical experimentation place to the distinct devices connected at each moment, we will obtain the needed data to develop, prove and verify the a priori hypothesis that the students/researchers in an individual or collective manner have established with their lecturer, before a connection to the remote lab has been carried out.

3.      As any scientific work, this experimentation can then be treated with mathematical models that correlate the obtained data and thus establish the conclusions and compare them with the forecast in the work hypothesis earlier established.

Thus, it is essential to establish the objectives, competences that will be worked, the development of the activity and the type of methodology to use.

Before establishing the first of the essential points (the objectives) let's define and make more concrete the project that we want to develop.

As earlier stated, we want to apply the experimentation of a remote lab to the field of biology and for that our choice has been one of the most famous enigmas in Biology, "what was first, the egg of the chicken?". This choice has its importance since although we will not reveal the enigma with our experimentation, we will make a continuous following of the embryonic development of a fertilized cell (the egg) until the birth of a multi cellular being (the chicken) in a relatively reduced time span (21 days). A significant difference when compared with other macroscopic biological system we will see the spatio-temporal evolution of the embryo thanks to the observation and measure intruments used such as the ovoscope, which will allow us to see the egg interior without causing any damage to the embryo under development. We will also use measures such as length-width of the fertilized egg, the incubation camera temperature and so on. This will allow to each working group to obtain data to develop their hypothesis in real time.