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Getting Started With The Greenhouse Sense and Control Kit

For the past week, Mia and I have been working on a new project involving a pepper plant named Pete, the SPARKvue software, and PASCO’s new Greenhouse Sense and Control Kit. Pete is a Ring of Fire pepper plant which thrives in temperatures between 26-29 degrees Celsius and a relative humidity of around 70%. We knew that we had to set up Pete’s optimal conditions if we wanted him to grow and produce any peppers, so Mia and I immediately got to work on it. We started by setting up the greenhouse itself, including the fan and grow light accessories, followed by the greenhouse sensor which includes a soil moisture probe and the temperature, humidity, and light sensing pc board. Once we connected the //control.Node to our laptop we were able to begin the programming process. Using the information available on the PASCO website, we were able to create simple code designed to regulate the temperature and relative humidity by activating the fan accessory anytime the relative humidity level went over 75% and deactivating the fan accessory once the level drops back down to 70%. This would keep the relative humidity within the desired 70-75% window. We also found that this would keep the temperature of the greenhouse between 25-26 degrees Celsius, ensuring that ideal conditions for the Ring of Fire pepper were met.


The Greenhouse Sense and Control kit contained a wide variety of equipment which allowed us to monitor the temperature and relative humidity inside the Eco Chamber. The values collected during this process helped us to create the code we needed on SPARKvue to regulate Pete’s environment easily. This code was uploaded to the //control.Node so that it would run throughout the off-hours without any constant monitoring, which was very convenient for Mia and myself, and ensured that Pete would be well taken care of in our absence.

Pete was watered manually about 3 times throughout the work week to keep him hydrated and to regulate the moisture levels of the soil, and we made sure to give him multiple hours under the grow light each day, and before long we noticed that small flower bulbs began to appear. This week, we will be focusing on maintaining the optimal environment for Pete’s success so that he continues to grow and flower. We also want to experiment more with the USB water pump, and aim to create a watering or drip irrigation system within the greenhouse!


As a future environmental engineer, I’ve truly enjoyed working with the Greenhouse Sense and Control Kit. Being able to grow a plant right here in the office has been a really great opportunity, and it’s allowed me to apply the experience gathered from my studies of soil and water to a really interesting project, as well as expand my knowledge!

Assumption College Visit

Yesterday we visited Department Head David Page and the Science Department at Assumption College School in Brantford, Ontario.

We demonstrated a variety of PASCO products including the newest additions, the Greenhouse Sense and Control Kit and PASCObot as well as PASCO classics including the Basic Optics System, and award-winning Smart Cart.

It was great to be back in person interacting with teachers! We discussed ways to integrate PASCO products into the classroom to create a fun, educational, and hands-on environment for students.

We were very impressed with Assumption College’s extensive PASCO collection and how they are using multi-generations of PASCO in tandem for their labs.

Thank you to David Page for arranging the visit and we are looking forward to visiting more schools in the future!

Stream data from PASCO Wireless Sensors directly to Microsoft Excel with the PASCO Data Streamer app

The PASCO Data Streamer app enables Windows® 10 users to stream real-time data from PASCO Wireless Sensors into Microsoft® Excel. All that’s required is a compatible PASCO Wireless Sensor, the PASCO Data Streamer App, and the Office 365 Excel® Data Streamer Add-in.

PASCO Data Streamer
Data Streamer Information Graphic

1 Download the Windows® App

Install the PASCO Data Streamer app for Windows® 10 by opening the Microsoft Store on your Windows computer and searching for PASCO Data Streamer.

The Windows® app is free. Visit the app’s product page in the Microsoft Store »

2 Download the Excel Add-in

Download the Microsoft® Excel Data Streamer Add-in using your O365 subscription.

Don’t have a subscription? Click here to get free access to Office 365 Education for you and your students.

For complete installation information, please visit the PASCO Data Streamer Help Guide.

Boyle’s Law Sample Excel Workbook

Boyles Law Workbook

Acid Base Titration
Excel Workbook

Acid Base Titration Workbook

Conductivity Sensor
Excel Workbook

Conductivity Sensor Workbook

pH & Temperature Sensors
Excel Workbook

pH & Temperature Sensor Workbook

The following PASCO Wireless Sensors can be used with the PASCO Data Streamer app:

  • Wireless Acceleration/Altimeter
  • Wireless Blood Pressure Sensor
  • Wireless CO2 Sensor
  • Wireless Conductivity Sensor
  • Wireless Current Sensor
  • Wireless Current Sensor Module
  • Wireless Diffraction Scanner
  • Wireless Drop Counter
  • Wireless Force Acceleration Sensor
  • Wireless Light Sensor
  • Wireless Load Cell and Accelerometer
  • Wireless Magnetic Field Sensor
  • Wireless Motion Sensor
  • Wireless Optical Dissolved Oxygen Sensor
  • Wireless Oxygen Gas Sensor
  • Wireless pH Sensor
  • Wireless Pressure Sensor
  • Wireless Rotary Motion Sensor
  • Wireless Temperature Sensor
  • Wireless Temperature Sensor Link
  • Wireless Voltage Sensor
  • Wireless Weather Sensor with GPS

OAPT 2022


On Monday, June 6th, the AYVA team attended the OAPT 2022 Conference at McMaster University! Thank you to everyone who visited our table, we hope you enjoyed engaging with many PASCO products. A special thanks to the CAP and OAPT organizers for an awesome event, we are looking forward to connecting with everyone again next year!

Coding with Blockly: Displaying a Smart Cart’s Velocity Vector

Today I got to work through an experiment using PASCO’s Wireless Smart Cart and Blockly code on SPARKvue.  I followed the Blockly Extension: Vector Display lab from the PASCO Experiment Library. This lab guides you to use Blockly code to display text on the screen depending on the speed of the Smart Cart.

I connected the Smart Cart through Bluetooth to SPARKvue and read through the lab procedure. I started off by slowly moving the Smart cart along my desk while observing the velocity graph. I conducted three runs, one to determine a low velocity, a medium velocity, and a high velocity. I took note of these three velocities, as shown in the image on the right, so that they could be included within the code. After getting familiar with the lab, I copied the example code, adjusting the velocity values to the ones I recorded, as shown in the image on the left. I tested my code by clicking start and moving the Smart Cart. At first, I was not sure where to look for the displayed text. I realized I had to change my display from a graph to digits. Then, by clicking the variable being displayed, I switched from Sensors to User-entered and chose Velocity Vector (the variable I created in the Blockly code). This time when I pressed start, the vectors I assigned to each velocity displayed on the screen depending on the Smart Cart’s speed. I decided to change the text displayed from vectors to words. As shown in the video below, I used simple terms such as slow, medium, and fast to describe the carts’ velocities.

I found this lab super cool! It was my first time experimenting with the Wireless Smart Cart using Blockly code and I am looking forward to coding more products.

Getting Ready for OAPT using the PASCO Basic Optics System

This past week we got to work with the PASCO Basic Optics System, OS-8515C. Using components of the kit, we were able to try out some introductory optics experiments. To start off, we used the Ray Table, the D-Shaped Lens, and the Light Source to perform a simple refraction experiment, using the PASCO Refraction lab as guidance as shown in the image on the left. This experiment was very easy to set up. All you need to do is plug in the Light Source and follow the instructions in the Refraction lab document. This experiment explores Snell’s Law, describing the relationship between angles of incidence and refraction.

We also conducted the PASCO Virtual Images lab which involved the use of the PASCO Optics Track, Light Source, Lenses, and Viewing Screen. This allowed us to make observations on the virtual image produced by the light source and lenses. By going through this lab, we made multiple observations, for instance, when using the -150 mm concave lens and looking through it the image is upright, smaller, and closer to the lens than the object. When we add the +200 mm convex lens between the concave lens and the screen, a real image is formed on the screen mirrored, inverted, and smaller. After removing the concave lens, the image remained mirrored, inverted, and the image became blurry. The Light Source had to be moved closer to the screen for the image to become clear. We found this lab to be very interesting, making use of many of the components from the Basic Optics System and expanding our knowledge of optics.

If you want to know more about this product as well as other interesting PASCO products, come see us at the OAPT Conference at McMaster University on Monday June 6th!

Our First Experience with the PASCObot

Coming out of our second year of Engineering at the University of Guelph, we have a newly developed appreciation for working with laboratory equipment. Having missed out on much of our in person labs throughout first year due to the pandemic, we have truly enjoyed being able to interact with the lab equipment this school year in our Fluid Mechanics and Material Science Courses.

This past week, we got to unbox and assemble PASCO’s new PASCObot Sense and Control Kit, giving us an introduction to robotics and simple block coding. We started by assembling the PASCObot body using the instructions. The assembly consisted of screwing on the High Speed Stepper Motors and the wheels. This was followed by plugging in the wires of the motors to the //control.node, screwing in the hold-down and the top frame as shown. The instructions were easy to follow and the box contained everything needed including the screwdriver. Within the kit, there are multiple attachments designed for different applications and activities.

The first attachment we tested was the Gripper, shown in the photo on the left, which consists of two servo motors which attached to the //control.node. These motors allowed the Gripper to open and close its jaws as well as angle them up or down according to the given code. This was an interesting experiment that demonstrated several experimental applications of the PASCObot. For instance, setting up the code was quite simple. In the instructions, it explains how to get started with SPARKvue. The //control.node connects to the software using Bluetooth. The code is presented in a block-like manner, each instruction being in the shape of a puzzle piece. All you have to do is drag one of the puzzle pieces from the Code tool or import them from the PASCO code library, connecting them from top to bottom in the order you want them to function. Each block/puzzle piece states exactly what you want it to do. For example, to make the PASCObot move forward 50 cm, you would select the block “moveADistance with: _ cm” from the PASCO code library and type 50. Students may need a demonstration on how to navigate the code tool however, we were able to figure it out quickly, without having any previous experience with SPARKvue.

This inspired us to film a short clip in which the PASCObot would move a certain distance, turn left, grab a cup of water, turn right, and bring this cup to us. We started by measuring and marking a course then coding the robot using the measurements taken, as shown in the image on the right. We were able to successfully complete this task without spilling any water, and this allowed us to become more familiar with the system.

We then moved on to using the Range Finder Module, shown in the image on the left. This accessory was attached in the front of the PASCObot with two screws. A wire was then used to connect the Range Finder Module to the //control.node. The Range Finder Module uses infrared light to detect the distance from the PASCObot to objects. We followed the “Roving with Sight with the PASCObot” experiment from the PASCO Experiment Library and used the sample code. The code allowed the PASCObot to move on its own, avoiding objects, reacting to its surroundings, and maneuvering around the office floor independently. We found working with the PASCObot super cool and we are excited to try out more experiments.






PASCO’s Python Library

The PASCO Python Library lets learners, educators, and hobbyists take full control of their PASCO Wireless Sensors using Python code. Visit us on GitHub to download the PASCO Python API, browse sample code, and review tips for getting started.

Why Python?

  • Python is used in schools and universities around the world.
  • It’s simple, readable, and flexible, making it ideal for both beginners and experts.
  • Python resources are readily accessible thanks to its global community of creators, collaborators, and problem-solvers.

Python vs. Blockly

Blockly is an easy-to-use, block-based programming platform available in both SPARKvue and PASCO Capstone. Unlike Blockly, Python is a text-based programming language that is independent from PASCO software. This library lets you bring Python into the PASCO ecosystem for complete control of your data. With Python, users control all aspects of sensor data collection, from sensor connections and sampling rates to data displays and custom analytics.

Visit us on GitHub to view instructions for getting started and browse sample code for Python projects.

Compatible Sensors

  • //code.Node
  • Smart Cart
  • Wireless Acceleration Altimter
  • Wireless CO2
  • Wireless Conductivity
  • Wireless Current
  • Wireless Diffraction
  • Wireless Drop Counter
  • Wireless Force Acceleration
  • Wireless Light
  • Wireless Load Cell
  • Wireless Magnetic Field
  • Wireless Motion
  • Wireless O2
  • Wireless Optical Dissolved Oxygen
  • Wireless pH
  • Wireless Pressure
  • Wireless Rotary Motion
  • Wireless Temperature
  • Wireless Voltage
  • Wireless Weather

System Requirements

  • Operating Systems: Windows, Mac, Linux (Raspberry Pi)
  • Bluetooth 4.0+
  • Python version 3.7-3.10
  • IDE of your choice (VSCode, PyCharm, etc)

Example Projects

Temperature Alarm

Use a Python text to voice plugin to narrate temperatures out loud.

View Code on GitHub

Smart Cart 3D Plot

Create an 3D plot using values from the Smart Cart.

Frankenstein’s Battery: La-BOO-ratory Manual

Frankenstein’s Battery La-BOO-ratory Manual

It’s alive, it’s allliiiiiiiiive!!! Your enthusiasm for electrochemistry that is. The La-BOO-ratory Manual, Frankenstein’s Battery, combines creativity with the principles of electrochemistry in a Halloween-themed way. Sounds like a lot, right? But this fun and simple experiment engages students to express themselves while exploring the wonderful world of science. 

The premise of the experiment is to use pieces of produce (i.e. potatoes, lemons, etc.) to construct a monster head and then turn that monster head into an electrochemical cell. Students use markers to draw Frankenstein faces on their produce and then, with PASCO’s Wireless Voltage Sensor, detect the voltage once they insert copper wire and a galvanized nail into their monster head. The data is graphed in SPARKvue to let students visualize the voltage readings and witness science in action. Students can also continue to combine electrochemical cells and make a battery to witness how a series connection affects voltage readings. 

This experiment ensures to spark students’ interests and scare them straight to a thorough understanding of electricity principles.

The way the Frankenstein Battery works is actually focused on the copper wire and galvanized nail, rather than the produce itself. The electricity comes from the electrodes made of the copper wire and the zinc-coated nail. The produce simply conducts the ions between the electrodes, so it can be called an ionic conductor. Attaching the wires completes the electrical circuit and the positive and negative ions will be conducted through the produce. The difference in electrical potential energy is what the Wireless Voltage Sensor measures and records in SPARKvue. 

Produce that is high in potassium, sodium, and acidity make good Frankenstein Batteries due to the high amount of superconductive ions. This means the positive/negative ions that must be conducted through the produce will do so at a more efficient rate in produce that’s higher in sodium than produce that’s lower in sodium. Good Frankenstein Batteries must also have a strong internal structure for efficient conduction. This is why potatoes make such awesome Frankenstein Batteries while produce like tomatoes won’t be as great due to their messy internal structure. 

Electrochemistry may seem like a monster of a topic, but engaging experiments like Frankenstein’s Battery will surely produce positive results with students. 

This experiment is one of the many ways to use science to express creativity. Enabling students to create monsters and be engaged with a Halloween theme will further the combination of art into science exploration. Science is a wonder-filled world that provokes curiosity, and art is a form of unique self-expression that promotes creativity. In addition to the principles of electricity, this experiment teaches students that they don’t have to choose between creativity and curiosity. 

Back in the Saddle

Life has been very interesting for the past 18 months. Did I say interesting? I meant challenging. With a global pandemic in force, how does education adapt? In my area, students had several months of online only learning, followed by online four days a week, then 3 days a week. Some students had full-time school, but they did only 2 classes a day. One class for the entire morning and one in the afternoon. New classes roughly every 10 weeks. How do you teach under these conditions? How do you teach science under these conditions? How do students learn under these conditions?

This blog won’t focus on that though. We are back at full time regular school (albeit with masks) for the first time since March of 2019. The focus is how do we reengage students? How do we bring back that sense of wonder and amazement of the world around them? For me, the answer is almost always the same; do hands on work. Experimentation is science and that is where the magic happens.

Once the dust settled of courses being filled, I knew I need students doing lab work. I couldn’t wait too long. It didn’t need to be anything complicated or deep, I just needed them to be hooked. Enter my PASCO Spark, the MatchGraph app and some Smart Carts.

Just bringing out the equipment got the students excited. “What are those?” I heard more than once. “Do we get to use them?” We did a quick run through and started on the first graph. The energy in the room was off the charts. There was so much buzz; arguments on who could do it better, what were they doing right, what were they doing wrong. This is what a classroom should be and such a simple way to get it.

Soon students were mastering the first linear graph and were looking very proud of themselves. I then told them there were more graphs. Deflation, curiosity and excited sped across their faces (at least their eyes) and they quickly started trying them. Carts were flying across the tabletops. 45 minutes passed in a blink and when I told them class was coming to an end and the equipment needed to be put away there were actual groans. They wanted to keep going! More than one student asked if we were going to use the equipment again. My answer was simple: tomorrow.

The students are hooked. They are excited to be learning. All it took was a little bit of learning play with my Smart carts and PASCO MatchGraph.

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