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WLU, firm to develop online science lab

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A new partnership between a Wheeling company and West Liberty University focused on developing and marketing a better way to teach college level science has received a seed grant from a new statewide economic development initiative.

The Innovation Transfer Consortium (ITC), a project of TechConnect WV, has awarded a $5,000 seed grant to Wheeling's Polyhedron Learning Media (PLM) and WLU to develop two online physics lab simulations. The resulting product will not only help WLU faculty teach labs more efficiently and economically, it may also be marketed to other colleges and universities across the nation.

TechConnect WV, a statewide economic development organization that works to foster and promote innovation-based businesses and entrepreneurial activities throughout West Virginia, created ITC.

TechConnect WV Executive Director Anne Barth said ITC specifically works to help forge productive connections between the researchers at work in West Virginia's innovative institutions of higher education and the potential private sector partners who can help turn their work into viable products, services, technologies and, ultimately, jobs.

The goals of the project are to upgrade and adapt PLM lab simulations based on lesson plans created by West Liberty faculty and test the simulations with WLU students to determine effectiveness of the virtual labs as compared to comparable hands-on labs.

West Liberty offers an introductory physical science course that includes topics in physics, chemistry, astronomy and geology.

"WLU faculty members have expressed a need for online labs to accompany the course," PLM co-founder Jeanne Finstein wrote in her ITC grant application. "These online options would help relieve the budget problems related to the funding of lab facilities and equipment and would also allow more scheduling flexibility for on-campus students and the option of beginning development of the course through distance learning."