Microfluidics and learning-on-a-chip research – including the manipulation of modest quantities of liquids to run scaled down experiments in physics, chemistry, biology and medication – are a prolific research field. Be that as it may, up until now, there aren’t many published instances of how to teach it in an effectively understandable manner to students or how to communicate the various noteworthy advances within the field to public audiences in a relatable manner.
To address this, in the journal Biomicrofluidics, from AIP Publishing, a group of analysts exhibits an audit of published literature about microfluidics education and gives strategies and recommendations to any individual who wants to improve their own microfluidics teachings and outreach.
“Science education and outreach are both popular right now, and public outreach is also increasingly important, because taxes fund a significant amount of research,” said Nicole Pamme, at the University of Hull. “Public awareness of scientific advances is important for good policymaking within democratic societies.”
Microfluidics is a term that envelops an expansive scope of tools used to manipulate amazingly little volumes of liquids, extending from attoliters (one quintillionth of a liter) to microliters (a microliter is one millionth of a liter; a can of Coke, for instance, is 355,000 microliters in volume). This technology is useful, since it enables researchers to scale down experiments, which empowers lower consumption of chemicals and reagents, littler sample volumes, and littler, increasingly versatile instrumentation.
“Many experiments can be carried out faster or more efficiently and with precise control of local conditions, which is impossible to achieve in large petri dishes or reaction vessels,” said Darius Rackus, a co-author at ETH Zürich. “One of the goals of microfluidics is to mirror the history and advances of computer science by going from dedicated rooms and facilities for computing to miniaturized, hand-held computers that can be used anywhere for the chemical and life sciences.”
The most widely recognized microfluidics format is microchannels, which are essentially little plumbing frameworks with a width or height of in any event 1 to 10 of micrometers. At this length scale, the liquids have a low Reynolds number (the ratio of inertial to viscous forces), which implies that they show laminar flow (instead of turbulent flow).
“One implication of this is that fluids flowing together don’t mix but rather continue in the direction of flow,” Rackus said. “This is a useful phenomenon that many researchers capitalize on to precisely control the placement of fluids and particles within a microfluidic device.”
In the group’s audit, they confirmed that most instances of including microfluidics with teaching or outreach are comprehensively part into two categories: teaching about microfluidics or teaching with microfluidics. Numerous instances of teaching about microfluidics center around the physics and engineering of microfluidic frameworks.
“These could be demonstrations that explain concepts, such as flow behavior or design projects, where students create a microfluidic device to solve a particular problem,” said Pamme. “In cases of teaching with microfluidics, we found examples where microfluidics was used more as a means to an end to study physical, chemical or biological phenomena.”
The group trusts more student presentation to microfluidics will build interest for the multidisciplinary field of microfluidics, and eventually lead to more specialists in the field.
“We hope that our paper will equip educators to include microfluidics in their curricula — both in playful and serious ways — and to share ideas of how to engage citizens about medicine and clinical diagnostics developments, environmental analysis, chemical synthesis, which are all underpinned by concepts of engineering and physics,” said co-author Ingmar Rieldel-Kruse, at Stanford University. “Given the limited reports within the literature, we’d like to encourage more sharing — either formal or informal — of ideas and activities for teaching microfluidics.”
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