One of the hardest things about teaching online during this pandemic has been ensuring student engagement. When my physics class moved online, I knew I wanted to somehow continue the lab component but wasn’t quite sure how… until I learned about shared sessions in SPARKvue.
Without a doubt, remote labs were not going to be as hands-on as they were in person, but students should still have the opportunity to engage in the other practical applications of labs like making observations and analyzing data. A shared session in SPARKvue allows students to see data being collected in real time as if they were doing experiments themselves. I recently used this feature for a circuit lab in my Physics class.
I set up a circuit using the modular circuits and pointed a webcam on it so the students could see the circuit I was building and manipulating. I then started a shared session on SPARKvue and the students all joined in to see the voltage and current readings. As I made changes to the circuits, I had students write various predictions in the chat of our meeting room. The ability to predict and then see what actually happens in real time reflects what my students would do if they were engaging with this lab in person.
Doing this lab remotely not only allowed the students to predict, observe, and analyze; it actually opened up an avenue for more enriched discussions due to it’s collaborative nature and engaging the entire class at the same time. When the data didn’t exactly match a prediction, I could point to aspects of the circuit through the webcam and connect what we were seeing to the data being shown.
The ability to predict, observe, and analyze is one of the key features of any science lab. By pairing a data collection program like SPARKvue with a webcam and the modular circuits kit (or other PASCO sensors), students can observe how data is being collected and engage in the process of scientific exploration of the concepts they would otherwise only see written on a page. SPARKvue is changing not only the physical classroom but also the virtual classroom into a more engaging, thought-provoking, and dynamic environment for learning.
How to start a shared session in SPARKvue: