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Course goals

The goal of this course is to give a first hands-on experience with experimental design data collection, analysis and reporting. We want students to creatively engage with their projects, finding by themselves solutions to the challenges they encounter. The role of the teaching staff will be to consult and advise, not spoon-feed solutions.

The main values we would like to promote: curiosity, independence, creativity, and a can-do attitude.

Guiding questions and Description

This course deals with the design of a simple experiment focusing on data collection and analysis. The guiding questions throughout this course are:

  • What is my research question?
  • What data is needed?
  • How will data be collected?
  • How will data be analyzed?
  • How will data be reported?

Throughout the course, students will critically engage with each of these questions, and as a case study, will build an experiment to monitor the flow of water in the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum, first a joint experiment for the whole class and then a private project which will be selected from a list of topics. The list of projects covers several disciplines, including biological and microbiological science, as well as soil and water sciences. The culmination of this course will be a final project, in which students will devise an experiment and apply the acquired tools to a subject of their choosing, and submit a report on it. See below some of the past projects developed in our course.

The monitoring and control systems to be build are based on the ESP32, a versatile (and cheap!) microcontroller. The ESP32 is similar to the Arduino, with the advantage that it has inbuilt Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features.

2020-2021 Projects