SPARKvue includes an easy & effective tool for hosting distance & hybrid labs!

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With Shared Sessions, students can easily join a SPARKvue session hosted by their teacher – or even another student – from anywhere! They observe data collection in real time and keep a copy of the data to perform their own analysis.

Setting up a session is quick and easy and allows students to participate in a home lab using just their smartphone. Once the session is finished and students have completed their analysis, they can digitally submit their work using cloud services or the Journal Snapshot tool.

Mole Day

It’s that time of year again. Chemistry teachers everywhere are dusting of their pun-ny jokes and creating mole-themed, activities and treats to celebrate National Mole Day in commemoration of Avogadro’s number (6.02 x 1023). Mole Day is celebrated starting at 6:02 am on October 23rd. How will we be celebrating? With chips and Guaca-mole, of course!

As we introduce the topic to students we typically start with something they already know. A mole, like a dozen, is a way of counting things. It just so happens that a mole is a really large number. While 1 dozen equals 12, 1 mole equals 6.02 x 1023. This number has to be very large because the particles that we deal with in chemistry happen to be very, very small (or sm-ole… the bad jokes keep on coming).

To give students a mole-ecular perspective of those tiny particles, you can use a modeling kit.

At this point in the year it is important for students to understand the basics of chemical formulas. The model kit gives them something to see and touch as they learn that subscripts in a formula represent the number of atoms that are bonded in the compound.

In addition to formulas, the model kit can be useful in calculating molar mass. Since each different colored atom represents a different molar mass, students can just take their model and add up all the masses of all the atoms that they see! In the case of water, the oxygen is 16 grams per mole and each hydrogen is 1 gram per mole. In total, there are 18 grams for every one mole of water molecules.

So how do chemists relate these tiny particles to something that they can measure, like grams? Moles to the rescue! Avogadro’s number (the number of particles in one mole) and molar mass (the amount of grams in one mole) both meet in the middle at … moles.

Moles are central to counting particles in chemistry. Using Avogadro’s number and the molar mass of water, we know that there are 6.02 x 1023 molecules in graduated cylinder that contains 18 grams of water.

Model kits can be great tools in helping students visually and kinesthetically learn about chemical formulas. They become actively engaged in the learning process as they discover the meaning and value of subscripts, molar masses and, of course, Avogadro’s number. And as students gain a better understanding of these concepts the real fun begins— they start to really understand your science humor! “Oh no! I’ve spilled water on my book!”

Happy Mole Day!

Experiment: How Hard is Your Tap Water?

Students use conductometric titration and gravimetry to determine how much calcium carbonate is in a sample of tap water.

This lab is an introduction to methodological comparisons. Percent error is calculated for both gravimetry and titration. Samples of tap water from various locales are concentrated and analyzed for calcium content.

Student Files

Standards Correlations

Featured Equipment

  • Wireless Drop Counter
    • Use the new Wireless Drop Counter for more efficient and accurate titration data. Conducting a titration has never been easier!
  • Wireless Conductivity Sensor
    • This waterproof sensor connects via Bluetooth® to measure both conductivity (ionic content in solution) and total dissolved solids.

This experiment can also be run with previous versions of PASCO sensors.

Exploring 2-Dimentional Motion and Vectors with Capstone’s Video Analysis Feature

Capstone includes a very powerful video analysis feature which can be used for comprehensive analysis of moving objects as well as to improve understanding.  Short video clips from your smartphone can be easily imported and analysed with a range of tools.  The movement of objects with a high contrast to a uniform background can be automatically tracked by the software.

A ball will be thrown in a parabolic arc and various tools will be used to analyze the motion.  Note that the vertical and horizontal axes have been marked and a distance of 4.00 m has been measured.  This will enable the software to translate from pixels to m:


As part of the analysis, the position of the ball in each frame is marked and the result is as shown below:

It is now possible to have the software generate various graphs such as position vs time and velocity vs time.

A graph of vertical position vs time is as shown below:

A graph of horizontal position vs time yields the following:

A graph of the vertical component of velocity vs time yields the following result:

Capstone also includes tools that improve understanding.  For example, in the screen below, the vertical and horizontal components of velocity are shown for the ball as it flies through the air.

To make the display less cluttered and less confusing it is possible to mark the vectors at an interval other than every frame.  Below the vectors are shown every third frame:

It is also possible to have a single vertical vector and a single horizontal vector appear and move with the ball as it goes through the air.


It is also possible to show the acceleration vector as shown below:

The fact that a few vectors do not point directly down is likely due to minor errors made when marking the position of the ball in various frames with a mouse.

PASCO Day of Physics – July 24, 2020

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Session 5: Cool Physics Demos

  • Coupled Oscillators Smart Cart (FFT) & Friction Block+PAScar
  • Inertia Wands
  • Atmospheric pressure Demos
  • Polarizer Demo / Color Mixer / Color Mixer Accessory
  • Genecon Hand Crank Generator Coil & cow magnet on a spring
  • Eddy Currents – magnetic braking
  • Mirror pendulum demo

SPARKVUE – A resource for planning lessons during the pandemic!

With SPARKvue it is possible for teachers to collect data and steam the data to students in real time via a student device also running SPARKvue. This is possible if each device has SPARKvue loaded on it and is connected to WiFi – even if the devices are located many kms apart. So a teacher could schedule a zoom session with his/her students. Students could use a computer for this activity. The teacher could then carry out an activity on another device loaded with SPARKvue and stream this to students who would have a second device such as a tablet, chromebook or smart phone to receive the data. After using the zoom platform for some preliminary discussion the teacher could then turn control of the data over to each individual student and this student could then use all of the tools available to him/her in SPARKvue to carry out the analysis.

Has it been difficult for you to plan lessons for your students that would result in meaningful learning as they tackled them at home?

SPARKvue data collection software can be a great help here for several reasons:

  •  SPARKvue will run on a great variety of devices including smart phones, tablets, chromebooks, and computers. It is free for all of these devices except for computers, for which a license must be purchased.
  • The appearance and function of SPARKvue software is virtually identical ascross platforms.
    • An activity planned and carried out and saved on one device such as a tablet can be opened in another device such as a chromebook.
    • All of Pasco’s sensors can be used with any of these devices

  • Unlike the software of some of our competitors, it is possible to generate a number of pages in SPARKvue (actually there is no limit). This makes it possible to use a number of the displays available in SPARKvue such as a digital picture, a video clip, a graph, a table, a meter, a digital display, an assessment, a text box, and blockly coding.
  • A teacher could design and carry out an activity where most of the analysis is left for the student to complete. For example the sequence of pages could look as follows:
    • The opening page is a title page and gives a brief description of the task to be completed
    • Page 2 shows a digital photograph of the setup to be used
    • Page 3 contains a short video clip in which the teacher gives a brief explanation or where a specific technique is demonstrated – eg how to connect a pressure sensor to a syringe (for a Boyle’s Law activity).
    • Page 4 is a text box which informs students that a data run has been collected by the teacher and the following pages will instruct them how to analyze the results. For example on page 5 the page is split into two parts with the larger part on the left. Students are asked to generate a graph of the data. On the right side there are a number of questions which students must answer by analyzing the graph. This means that the students will have to know how to use the analysis tools found as part of the graph display.
    • On page 6 students could find another split page. Suppose a motion sensor was used to collect data. On the left side students could be asked to plot a graph of kinetic energy vs time. This means they would have to know how to use the calculator in SPARKvue. On the right side of the page there could be a number of questions relating to this graph.
  • SPARKvue can collect data from more than one sensor at a time. For example, an activity could be carried out in which the pH and temperature of a sample of orange juice is measured when AlkaSeltzer is added. Students could be asked to generate a graph showing both the temperature and pH of the juice as the reaction proceeds and then be asked a series of questions on this reaction.
    • As can be seen from the examples above SPARKvue can be used to carry out extensive analysis of collected data.

PASCO Wins Three “Best of Show” Awards from NSTA and Catapult-X

Wireless Smart Cart, Wireless Spectrometer, and Wireless Weather Sensor


We are pleased to announce that PASCO has been awarded three “Best of Show” awards! More than two thousand science and STEM educators participated in the first Science Educators’ Best of Show™ Awards by casting their votes for products that they felt impacted science learning. We are honored to have our products recognized in a competition designed by science educators for science educators. You can check out the winners below!

Category: Best New Technology Innovation for STEM
Winner: PASCO’s Wireless Smart Cart and Accessories
When physics educators combine the PASCO Wireless Smart Cart with the available accessories, they have a complete platform for demonstrating some of the toughest topics in mechanics. The Smart Cart’s ease of use and extensive capabilities allow students to perform their mechanics labs to a high degree of accuracy and repeatability. With sensors for position, velocity, acceleration, force, and rotation, the Wireless Smart Cart relays live data to help students test their understanding of mechanics in real time.

The wireless nature of the PASCO Wireless Smart Cart and Accessories is a definite improvement [over traditional systems]. The removal of wires needed to connect to an external interface makes data more accurate and opens up opportunity for more innovative experimentation. The accessories for the carts also are very innovative and extend the scope of investigation.

— Science Educators’ Best of Show Judge

Category: Best Tried & True Technology Teaching and Learning: Chemistry
Winner: The Wireless Spectrometer and Spectrometry software
With measurements for emission spectra, intensity, absorbance, transmittance, and fluorescence, the Wireless Spectrometer is surely more powerful than its size suggests. Its visual, user-centered design makes it easy for educators and leaners of all levels to integrate spectrometry into their learning. The key is PASCO’s Spectrometry software, which allows students to quickly generate standard curves, make comparisons, and analyze their results using its visual absorbance display. When combined, the Wireless Spectrometer and Spectrometry software provide educators with a classroom-friendly spectrometry solution that can be applied to a wide variety of chemistry topics.

This device provides advanced analysis potential of spectrum analysis for chemistry, environmental and physics classes that is quite rare for high school classes to experience. The data collection is quick and thorough with excellent software for analysis on many devices. Use of this device and software will enhance learning in many science courses.

— Science Educators’ Best of Show Judge

Category: Best Tried & True Technology Teaching and Learning: Environmental Science
Winner: The Wireless Weather Sensor and SPARKvue software
With more than nineteen different measurements, including GPS, the Wireless Weather Sensor supports real-world environmental investigations that relate phenomena to data collection and analysis within SPARKvue. Together, the Wireless Weather Sensor and weather features within SPARKvue create a coherent solution for performing both long-term and short-term environmental inquiry at any science level. The Weather Dashboard within SPARKvue intuitively displays live and logged data, while SPARKvue’s ArcView GIS mapping integration supports geospatial investigations and analysis.

This sensor would provide extra opportunities for data collection in environmental science. It does offer a variety of options for experimental situations-19 in all. Experiments can be of short duration or long term. The weather vane is mentioned as an extra device to enhance data collection.

— Science Educators’ Best of Show Judge

Is Sound Just Vibrations?

When we consider what defines sound in a physics context, it can be tempting to assume sound is just vibrations. While partially true, sound is much more complex than simple vibrations. When a sound source vibrates, it produces sound energy that travels through particle disturbances in the medium, effectively transmitting the sound. As a sound wave moves through a medium, it creates high and low pressure differences called rarefactions and compressions. These differences are the result of particles within the medium shifting from their original states and causing other particles to compress or expand as a result. While a vibrating source creates sound energy, pressure differences make up the sound wave. Specific patterns of rarefactions and compressions are what give sounds their distinct characteristics, and ultimately, allow us to differentiate between noises, melodies, and other sounds. Looking for more information on sound? Visit our Sound Waves information guide for a more in-depth look at sound, or read our other sound blog posts, “What Type of Wave is Sound?

Who Discovered Spectroscopy?

Similar to many scientific concepts, spectroscopy developed as a result of the cumulative work of many scientists over many decades. Generally, Sir Isaac Newton is credited with the discovery of spectroscopy, but his work wouldn’t have been possible without the discoveries made by others before him. Newton’s optics experiments, which were conducted from 1666 to 1672, were built on foundations created by Athanasius Kircher (1646), Jan Marek Marci (1648), Robert Boyle (1664), and Francesco Maria Grimaldi (1665). In his theoretical explanation, “Optics,” Newton described prism experiments that split white light into colored components, which he named the “spectrum.” Newton’s prism experiments were pivotal in the discovery of spectroscopy, but the first spectrometer wasn’t created until 1802 when William Hyde Wollaston improved upon Newton’s model.

William Hyde Wollaston’s spectrometer included a lens that focused the Sun’s spectrum on a screen. He quickly noticed that the spectrum was missing sections of color. Even more troublesome, the gaps were inconsistent. Wollaston claimed these lines to be natural boundaries between the colors, but this hypothesis was later corrected by Joseph von Fraunhofer in 1815.

Joseph von Fraunhofer’s experiments replaced Newton’s prism with a diffraction grating to serve as the source of wavelength dispersion. Based on the theories of light interference developed by François Arago, Augustin-Jean Fresnel, and Thomas Young, Fraunhofer’s experiments featured an improved spectral resolution and demonstrated the effect of light passing through a single rectangular slit, two slits, and multiple, closely spaced slits. Fraunhofer’s experiments allowed him to quantify the dispersed wavelengths created by his diffraction grating. Today, the dark bands Fraunhofer observed and their specific wavelengths are still referred to as Fraunhofer lines.

Throughout the mid 1800’s, scientists began to make important connections between emission spectra and absorption and emission lines. Among these scientists were Swedish physicist Anders Jonas Ångström, George Stokes, David Atler, and William Thomson (Kelvin). In the 1860’s, Bunsen and Kirchhoff discovered that Fraunhofer lines correspond to emission spectral lines observed in laboratory light sources. Using systematic observations and detailed spectral examinations, they became the first to establish links between chemical elements and their unique spectral patterns.

It took many decades and more than a dozen scientists for spectroscopy to be well understood, and most modern models weren’t developed until the 1900’s. Today, there are physicists, biologists, and chemists using spectroscopy in their day-to-day lives. For more information, visit our in-depth guide, What is Spectroscopy? or check out our other blog post, “What is the Difference Between Spectroscopy and Microscopy?”

Demonstrating Projectile Motion

Projectiles is a major concept in every physics class, but finding a lab activity to demonstrate this concept can be quite difficult. I have tried a number of ideas in the past, such as rolling balls off tables, firing nerf guns (that seem to never shoot consistently), launcher-building competitions, and so many more. While these activities were okay, they were all limited in terms of measurable variables. The projectile problems I give my students often have some sort of initial “launch” velocity, proves to be the hardest thing to measure in a practical setting.

With the Wireless Smart Gate, this is no longer an issue. The Smart Gate will seamlessly measure the speed of any object that passes through it. Now when my students roll a ball off a table, the ball travels through a Smart Gate first giving them the speed at which the ball leaves the table. Before the Smart Gates, students would have to predict the speed of the ball based on the ball’s range, but they never had a value to compare their predictions with. The Smart Gate allowed for a comparison and when students compared their values, they were amazed at how a value calculated on paper translated into a real-world measurement.

Angled launches remained a stumbling block for me. Rolling a ball through a Smart Gate is easy but launching one through? Pasco has angled projectile launchers available to purchase, but I thought I would build my own to see how feasible it would be to have my students eventually build the same. I wanted a product that would launch a ball through the smart gate at various angles so that students could see how the launch angle and speed affects ball flight.

The following pictures are of the finished product. The ball is loaded in the top of the pvc pipe where it rests on a bolt. The bolt is attached to two springs so that when it is drawn back and released, the ball is launched. The video shows the launcher in action. You can see how, as the ball moves through the smart gate, the Smart Gate automatically records the velocity of the ball. The dual beam technology in the new Smart Gate allows for different sized balls to be used, as the velocity is based on the time difference between the two beams. The old photogates only had one beam and you had to calibrate the sensor to the specific size of the object moving through the beam.

Being able to instantly measure the velocity of a projectile before it flies through the air is extremely valuable in the application of this concept. While there are things I would do differently in the construction of the launchers, students were able to see how the different velocities and angles affect the range of the projectile. Once again, students predictions matched measured values closely and they were again amazed at the ability to see this difficult concept in action.

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  • A big thanks for all the help and support you provided – I want to take some time to say a big thanks for all the help and support you provided me to select the best equipment in order to make the best possible use of the funds available. It is really exceptional that you happily connected with me multiple times even during the weekend and was always motivated to help. Please accept my big thanks for this.

    Gurpreet Sidhu | Physics Instructor | University College of North | The Pas, MB

  • Wireless Spectrometer Big Hit With Students – PASCO’s wireless spectrometer has been utilized very well by our earth science and physical science teachers. It’s an excellent piece of equipment and we have very much enjoyed its addition to enriching our classroom. It definitely brings students to a higher level of understanding wave interaction at a molecular level.

    Matt Tumbach | Secondary Instructional Technology Leader | Tommy Douglas Collegiate | Saskatoon, SK

  • Excellent Smart Cart – I thought the cart was excellent. The quick sampling rate for force will be very useful for momentum and collision labs we do. I’m recommending we include this in our order for next school year.

    Reed Jeffrey | Science Department Head | Upper Canada College | Toronto ON

  • Your lab equipment is of the highest quality and technical support is always there to help. During the 25 years we have used a wide array of lab equipment including computer interfacing. Your Pasco line has a high profile in our lab and will continue to do so far into the future.

    Bob Chin | Lab Technician | Kwantlen Polytechnic University | Surrey, BC

  • Datalogging Activities are Cross-Curricular

    Throughout the province of Nova Scotia, PASCO’s probeware technology has been merged with the rollout of the new P-6 curriculum. We chose a number of sensors for use with our project-based activities. Both the functionality and mobility of PASCO’s dataloggers enable students to collect authentic, real-world data, test their hypotheses and build knowledge.

    Mark Richards | Technology Integration Consultant | Annapolis Valley R.S.B. | Nova Scotia

  • We have a large number of PASCO wireless spectrometers and love how they have improved the learning experience for our students.

    Shawn McFadden | Technical Specialist | Ryerson University | Toronto, Ontario

  • During distance learning due to COVID-19 school shut down, I was given a short window to collect what I could from my classroom to teach online. The PASCO wireless sensors and Smart Carts were my top priority to collect to implement distance learning. By sharing experimental data with students via SPARKVue, the sensors were pivotal in creating an online experience that still allowed students to grow with their lab skills. It was easy to record videos of the data collection and share the data with my students. They did a phenomenal job examining and interpreting the data.

    Michelle Brosseau | Physics Teacher | Ursuline College Chatham | Chatham, Ontario

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