WLU receives tech seed money for physics

WEST LIBERTY – A partnership between Polyhedron Learning Media and West Liberty University has received a boost in the form of a seed grant from a new statewide economic development initiative.

The Innovation Transfer Consortium, a project of TechConnect WV, has awarded a $5,000 seed grant to Wheeling’s Polyhedron Learning Media and WLU to develop two online physics lab simulations. The resulting product will help WLU faculty teach labs more efficiently and economically. It also may be marketed to other colleges and universities across the nation.

“We are grateful for the grant and the partnership that it fuels. We thank ITC and TechConnect for its involvement in science and support for higher education,” said Robert Kreisberg, dean of WLU’s College of Science.

PLM President Jeanne Finstein agreed, adding that because West Liberty offers an introductory physical science course that includes topics in physics, chemistry, astronomy and geology, it was a perfect collaboration.

“WLU faculty members have expressed a need for online labs to accompany the course,” she wrote in her ITC grant application. “These online options 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.”

PLM already has developed a set of online college-level physics labs through a U.S. Department of Education project and had been discussing a partnership to answer the WLU needs when the seed grant project became available.

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 works to forge these kind of 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, then test the simulations with WLU students to determine effectiveness of the virtual labs as compared to comparable hands-on labs.

For information about ITC, visit the website, innovationtransfer.org. For information about TechConnectWV, visit techconnectwv.org.