Reposted from the NSTA Blog, original article can be found here.
The PASCO Wireless Spectrometer
Simply put, constructivism is a theory of knowledge that argues that humans generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences and their ideas. So it follows that nothing is can be more constructivist than exploring the theoretical with real-time tools that measure the invisible. And the PASCO Wireless Spectrometeris just such a tool.
One of the most amazing things about the PASCO Wireless Spectrometer is that it does exactly what you would want it to do; show you the invisible with ease, simplicity, and leave behind a useful digital paper trail of graphs and charts. Although the main purpose of the PASCO Wireless Spectrometer was “specifically designed for introductory spectroscopy experiments” it actually goes farther than that. Much farther. Much much farther!
This trio of teachers, two from China and one from Mongolia have limited English speaking skills, but instantly understood the iPad app and PASCO Wireless Spectrometer. Seems that light is also a universal language.
The physics and electronics behind the PASCO Wireless Spectrometer are straight forward. The output is clear and obvious. And the mobility aspect is unprecedented. In other words, it does what it should how it should. Amazing enough on its own, but in true paradigm shifting fashion the PASCO Wireless Spectrometer presents the invisible world of visible light in the magical cartoon chart we’ve seen only in static textbooks for most of our lives. It’s as if the dinosaur skeletons in dusty museums suddenly came alive and reacted to the world.
Visible light, or the light our human eyes sense and convert to electrical impulses to our brains, only encompass a tiny fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum. Wavelengths between 390-700 nanometers, or from the short blue/violet waves to the longer orange/red ones with green and yellow in the middle. Infrared waves are just a little too long for us to see, and ultraviolet ones are a little too short. Even longer are radio waves, and even shorter are x-rays. The PASCO Wireless Spectrometer has a range of 380 to 950 nanometers meaning it can “see” a little into the ultraviolet and a lot into the infrared.
An ultraviolet light spikes the graph just outside the shortest wavelength we can see with our eyes.
Where this all comes together is that when the PASCO Wireless Spectrometer and various light sources are manipulated with our hands, the extended visible spectrum becomes something we can explore with the same cognitive dexterity as the microscope affords us in biology. When used in the classroom for demonstrations and explorations, the PASCO Wireless Spectrometer literally lets “humans generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences and their ideas.” So yes, the PASCO Wireless Spectrometer is the epitome of constructivist theory into educational practice.
Although Isaac Newton is credited with discovering the inner workings of visible light back in the latter 1600s, the basic concept behind a rainbow was suggested by Roger Bacon 400 years earlier who in turn drew upon the works of Claudius Ptolemy a millennium before, and even Aristotle another 300 years before that.
As a quick digression here, the Newtonian physics behind the PASCO Wireless Spectrometer has roots much more than five times deeper into the past than Mr. Newton’s distance in time is from us right now. Sorry to go all Einstein on you, but the individual colors of visible light that Newton coaxed out of sunlight with only a glass triangle, and then reassembled with nothing more than a companion prism was like yesterday. Yet the attempts to explain the phenomena were first floated last week.
And now to think that within the palm of a student’s hand and the screen of their iPad is a gift of knowledge as great as the discovery itself. A stretch? Perhaps, but unless a scientific concept can be truly understood to the point one can make personal meaning out of the discovery, memorized facts are little more than coins used to buy grades.
Technically speaking, the PASCO Wireless Spectrometer is a battery operated spectrometer that uses Bluetooth wireless or a USB wire in order to communicate with a computing device running the necessary software. With its own built-in LED-boosted tungsten light source and three nanometer resolution, the PASCO Wireless Spectrometer provides an exceptional tool for traditional experimentation with pl
enty of room left over to inspect rarely explored specimens of light scattered throughout our lives.
The operation of PASCO’s unassuming black brick puts the power of spectrometry into the hands of grade school students and Ph.D. candidates alike. While maybe not the most durable block in the scientific toy box, the PASCO Wireless Spectrometer does offer a level of simplicity (when desired) as easy to use as glass prism and sunlight. Of course you can do much more with the PASCO Wireless Spectrometer, but you don’t have to in order to get your money’s worth. This spectrometer does so much so well so easily that it literally rewrites lesson plans just by walking into the classroom.
On a higher level, the PASCO Wireless Spectrometer can be used in chemical experiments of intensity, absorbance, transmittance and fluorescence all while using a device that, according to PASCO, has light pass through the solution and a diffraction grating and then a CCD array detects the light for collection and analysis. Sounds simple enough just like a digital prism should. Except this one gives about nine hours of service per battery charge.
In the off chance that the battery fails, it is user-replaceable. in the off chance the light burns out, it is user-replaceable. And in the likely chance that liquid from a cuvette spills into the holder, a drain hole limits the damage, and cleaning the holder is user-serviceable with a cotton swab and deionized water.
A portable studio light is used to provide a background of predictable photons in order to explore the absorbance properties of various types of matter including sunglasses, polarizers, fabric, and theater lighting filters.
The PASCO Wireless Spectrometer must interface with a computer or tablet. Both Mac and Windows are supported as is iOS and Android.
You can download the Spectrometer user guide here.
PASCO also suggests using the Wireless Spectrometer for the following popular labs:
Absorbance and transmittance spectra
Beer’s Law: concentration and absorbance
Photosynthesis with DPIP
Absorption spectra of plant pigments
Concentration of proteins in solution
Rate of enzyme-catalyzed reactions
Growth of cell cultures
Light intensity across the visible spectrum
Emission spectra of light sources
Match known spectra with references
And PASCO also provides several sample labs for plug-and-play directly into the chemistry classroom. But the really exciting plug-and-play option is the accessory fiber optic probe. With no more effort than sliding a faux cuvette into the receiving slot on the spectrometer, a meter-long fiber cord moves a directional sensor out into the wild where it can capture photons from all kinds critters. Some of my favorite animals include UV lights, filtered lightbulbs, various school lighting sources, sunlight though sunglasses, polarizers, and pretty much any LED flashlight I can find, especially the really good ones.
Although the screen output from the PASCO Wireless Spectrometer’s software is a graphical representation of a physical property, it takes almost no mental gymnastics to understand the changes to the graph once your mind is oriented to the display. The color-coded background and gesture-ready scaling provides an exceptionally smooth relationship with the data to the point all the hardware and software disappear leaving only the experiment and the results. And in my book, that kind of invisibility is the true measure of success with a teaching product.
When teaching the next generation about the important discoveries of the past generations, we have an obligation to use the most powerful educational tools possible. The PASCO Wireless Spectrometer is truly 100% pure constructivism-in-a-box. It turns experiences and ideas into personal meaning. Battery included and no wires necessary.
This entry was posted in NSTA Recommends: Technology, Science 2.0 and tagged Spectrometer, wireless.
CAPSTONE 2.0 is out now! Free Upgrade for Capstone 1.x users!
Updated with new tools! Designed specifically to collect, display and analyze data in physics and engineering labs.
Features for Capstone 2.0!
Helps Students Develop Computational Thinking Skills
Physics educators want more experimental control and programming access to all PASCO interfaces and sensors. Students need tools to develop creative programing and problem solving skills in science. Blockly coding has been built into Capstone 2, giving teachers and students the tools they need to develop these skills.
With PASCO Capstone In Your Lab:
Apply coding concepts to your labs
Create new sampling conditions
Design Sense and Control experiments
Create whatever experiment you or your students can dream up!
Trials Table – Coming in 2020!
You never take only one run in science. You take multiple runs and calculate averages. Next, you vary a parameter while holding the other constant; again, taking more runs and calculating averages. Most software data tables don’t actually allow this to be done easily.
The Capstone Trials Table was created for how data is collected in the science lab and allows for the kind of analysis students need to perform.
Organize your data to easily define physical relationships
Plot derived values
Using the simple pendulum lab as an example, students will time a simple pendulum under various conditions. They will vary the mass, length, and starting angle. The Capstone Trials Table allows you to vary and keep track of experimental parameters between trials and runs taken in each trial. You can also keep track of statistics for averaged runs and experimental error.
Scientists always take multiple runs and calculate averages. Next, they vary a parameter while holding the others constant; again, taking more runs and calculating averages. Most software data tables don’t support this and require data export and processing… until Capstone 2.
The Capstone Trials Table was created to reflect how data is collected in science labs. It supports the analysis students need to develop critical thinking skills and interpret the data.
With Capstone students can:
Organize data to easily define variable relationships
Track multiple variables
Average runs within a trial group
Plot derived values (such as an average of runs vs. a group parameter)
For example, in the Simple Pendulum lab, students time a pendulum under different conditions by varying the mass, length, and starting angle. The Capstone Trials Table allows you to manipulate variables and track experimental data between trials and runs. You can also keep track of statistics for averaged runs and experimental error.
Graph Pop-Up Tools
Now, whenever tools are activated, the most common actions will be easily accessible on the graph. The pop-up tools allow for easy access to tool features and options.
Reinforce circuit concepts and tackle student misconceptions using circuit visualization. Combine real-world circuits with simulations, animation, and live measurements. Drag components from the components list, then rotate them and connect pieces together by drawing wires.
With the Circuits Emulation tool in Capstone 2, you can:
Construct and modify circuits
Show conventional current and electron flow animation
Animate circuits with live sensor data
Drag components out from the components list. Rotate components and connect pieces together by drawing wires.
Your students will be amazed at how the PASCO strobe light instantly and dramatically freezes the motion of a vibrating string – appearing as if it’s stopped in time.
By slightly adjusting the strobe’s frequency, the string’s frozen wave will appear as if it is moving slowly forwards or backwards. This wave freezing demonstration approaches absolute zero on the ‘cool’ factor scale!
It was the shot heard across Canada. There were a lot of factors that made Kawhi’s buzzer beating basket so remarkable. Aside from there being no time left on the clock and the weight of a sport’s nation on his shoulders, Kawhi had to overcome the backward momentum that is inherent in a ‘fadeaway’. The purpose of a fadeway is to create space between the shooter and defender(s), which was a necessity for Kawhi as there were several seriously tall 76ers trying to screen his shot.
Over-coming the fadeway’s backwards momentum is no easy feat as it requires players to quickly calibrate in their minds the additional force that is required to successfully sink a basket, which for most mere mortals is not intuitive. The shot is so challenging that only a handful of NBA basketball players have been able to reliably make this shot; and we’re talking the great players such as Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and of course Kawhi Leonard.
The video below provides an extreme example of backwards momentum with a soccer ball shot from the back of a truck
Investigating Kawhi Leonard’s shot in the lab
In addition to backwards momentum there were many additional physical factors at play such as the angle of the shot and gravity. Investigating all these forces in a single activity would not be practical. Fortunately most of these forces can be isolated and explored in the lab using PASCO sensors, software and/or equipment.
Exploring The fadeaway’s negative momentum using PASCO
PASCO offers an intriguing and affordable solution to model the dramatic effect of a fadeaway’s negative momentum on projectile distance. PASCO’s mini launcher will consistently launch projectile balls the same horizontal distance for a set angle, assuming that the launcher is stationary. If however, the launcher is placed on PASCO’s frictionless cart, the force of pulling the trigger will cause the cart to move backwards at a velocity that can be measured using the motion sensor. Students will be surprised to see that even though the cart travels just a few centimeters, the overall projectile distance is significantly reduced. This can be a very simple demonstration or an in-depth quantitative analysis that factors in the projectiles initial angle and velocity, the time of flight and even the k-constant of the spring.
Other Forces Affecting a Basketball Shot
Momentum and Explosions
When a basketball player takes a jump shot (as with a fadeway), the player and the ball could be viewed as 2-object linear system if you ignore other outside forces such as gravity. What’s interesting, and perhaps not apparent to many students, is that the basketball will exert an equivalent force to the player as the player is exerting on the basketball (Newton’s 3rd Law). Of course because of the very significant inertia (mass) difference between the two objects, the basketball will accelerate at a much fast rate than the player. The player however will experience some acceleration in the opposite direction to that of the basketball.
Using Smart Carts to explore Momentum and Explosions (Free Lab)
The Wireless Smart Carts are equipped with an exploding plunger. Multiple 250g bars can be added to one cart to skew the masses. The velocities of both carts are measured using the cart’s internal position sensors enabling students to determine that momentum is conserved in a linear exploding system.
The player’s force on the basketball will be equal to the opposing force of the basketball onto the player. Of course most students will consider this a ridiculous proposition until they prove this for themselves.
Using Smart Carts to explore Newton’s Third Law
There are several ways the carts can be used. The simplest activity is for two students to have a tug-of-war using the internal force sensors of two Smart Carts and an elastic band as depicted in the image. The equal but opposite forces will be confirmed, however in relation to a basketball player taking a shot, it has some shortcomings as the forces are pulling as oppose to pushing.
An equally simple activity, and one more relevant to the basketball shot scenario, is to collide two Smart Carts (with magnetic bumpers attached to their force sensors). As both carts have equivalent masses, students may not be surprised to see the impact forces are identical. However, what will probably surprise your students, are the force measurements that occur during a collision when one cart is weighed down with one or more 250g masses. Using their intuition, most students will speculate that one of the carts will experience a much greater force than the other. Of course, Newton’s 3rd Law will triumph and the forces will be identical.
What goes up must come down. This is true of course for all earth bound objects (including basketballs) due to the ever present force of gravity. Without gravity the trajectory of a basketball player’s shot would be straight to the ceiling of the arena, where most of the fans would be viewing the game.
Exploring the accelerating force of gravity using the Motion sensor
PASCO offers several technologies and techniques for measuring gravity including the Wireless Smart Gate and Picket Fence and the new Freefall apparatus. Both of these techniques are accurate and precise means to measure gravity. A third technique and one more appropriate for relating to a basketball shot is to measure the position of a vertically tossed ball and then have the software derive an acceleration graph from this data. Statistics, including the Mean of the acceleration plot can be calculated by the software for the period when the ball was in freefall as shown in the graph.
Originally posted on PASCO’s Blog. Blog is written by Bruce Taterka a teacher at West Morris Mendham High School in New Jersey
PASCO’s Wireless CO2 Sensor provides a powerful opportunity for students to explore the effects of photosynthesis and respiration in their local environment. This blog will describe how students can use a “Pretzel Barrel CO2 Chamber” to design experiments to measure rates of photosynthesis and respiration in a wide variety of settings and circumstances.
Soil plays an important role in the carbon cycle and global climate because it acts as a carbon sink, sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere in the form of organic matter. The upper layers of soil contain organic matter that is actively decomposed by the soil community: microbes, insects, worms and other animals.
While respiration by soil organisms decomposes organic matter and releases CO2, the plant community is photosynthesizing and taking in CO2 from the atmosphere. So in this part of the earth’s carbon cycle, CO2 is moving in two directions – into the atmosphere from soil, and out of the atmosphere into plants. We refer to this transfer of carbon as “CO2 flux.” With PASCO’s Wireless CO2 Sensor, students can explore the carbon cycle, plant and soil biology, and climate change by measuring CO2 flux.
The rate of CO2 flux depends on a wide variety of factors. For soil, the rate of CO2 production may be affected by:
The content and type of organic matter in the soil
For the plant community, the rate of CO2 production may be affected by:
Type and density of plants
Carbon flux will vary with the weather, throughout the day, and the year as the season’s change. Measuring CO2 flux provides an excellent jumping-off point for engaging in NGSS practices regarding the earth’s carbon cycle.
Students can define their research questions and problems, analyze the results, and generate designs to conduct a variety of controlled experiments using the chamber. Most experiments will identify the CO2 concentration inside the chamber as the dependent variable and will test the effect of an independent variable of students’ choice.
On land, students can compare CO2 flux on soil, lawn, forest, sunny vs. shady areas, and in a wide variety of other situations. In general, when the chamber is on bare soil or leaf litter, the CO2 concentration inside the chamber will be expected to increase, usually within a short period such as 5 or 10 minutes. Figure 1. For longer investigations, the sensor can be placed in logging mode (storing data to internal memory) and left for ~24hrs before the batteries will be depleted.
Logging Mode Video
The chamber can be placed over plants that can fit inside it, in which case CO2 concentration inside the chamber should decrease, although it may be counteracted by respiration. The chamber can even be used on water by wrapping a piece of foam insulation around it, allowing it to float.
In any type of environment, students can design their studies to investigate the effect of different variables on CO2 flux.
How to make a Pretzel Barrel CO2 Chamber
The chamber is made of a plastic pretzel container available in supermarkets.
Draw a straight line around the container, then cut it in half using a razor knife to form two large plastic chambers open at the bottom and closed on top.
You have two options here. You can cut a hole in the top for a CO2 sensor using an electric drill or a razor knife. The hole should allow the CO2 sensor to fit snugly, keeping the container airtight; the hole can be adjusted with tape if necessary to create a tight seal around the sensor. Alternatively, the sensor can be placed inside the container since it’s wireless!
The chamber is now ready to be used by placing it on top of soil and measuring CO2 flux.
For aquatic environments, wrap a piece of foam pipe insulation around it.
I’ve been a theorist and an experimentalist at different times throughout my career. When at university, theory won out over experimental but now, as a teacher of high school, experimental easily wins. There is nothing like watching students figure out problems, deduce scientific laws and test theories. The old problem was the equipment.
What can I do with ticker-tape?
How responsive are the thermometers?
How reliable is the data?
How big are the errors?
Is it going to work?
But now, with my PASCO equipment, things are changing. I’m more excited and so are my colleagues. The students are picking up on that excitement too. The labs we’ve done for decades are being updated. However, the real joy is in designing new ones.
Since September I’ve created three new labs besides updating the other eight I do. One for kinematics, one for gravity and one for momentum. The momentum one is great because we were never able to do a reliable lab before. Using the Smart Carts and Sparkvue the kids are designing safe barriers and analyzing crashes. My favourite part of that lab is having the students figure out if movies are lying to you when they show a person getting shot, flying backwards through a window, and landing a few metres on the other side of it. We can recreate the situation with the Smart Cart acting as the bullet and looking at the forces involved.
This screenshot represents a head-on collision between two smart carts. They were released at different times to offset v-t graphs.
As I was working on the design of the labs and testing them out, my colleagues and administration stopped by. They all wanted to see what I was up to. They could see my excitement. They were infected. Two team members went away and started designing their own labs. We are talking more, sharing more and the kids benefit from it.
We can ask deeper questions because the data is more reliable and relatable. We can do so much with the carts and are figuring out more each time. Labs in physics 12 were hard because of analysis to 2-D. We are creating labs for them. The goal is a least two new labs a month. The labs are also not so cookie-cutter. They don’t always have to be quantitative. They are exploring more and, hopefully, learning more.
All of this is possible because of the Smart Carts, Sparkvue and the joy of lab design.
SPARKvue makes data collection and analysis easier than ever before with cross-platform compatibility on Chromebooks™, iOS, Android™, Windows®, and Mac®, or on our standalone datalogger, the SPARK LXi.
SPARKvue makes data collection, analysis, and sharing quick and easy on every platform. Compatible with all of PASCO’s wireless and PASPORT sensors, students can quickly set up their lab, or use a built-in Quick Start Lab and begin collecting data immediately. SPARKvue is for all sciences and grade levels. However, if you’re an advanced user looking for more capabilities such as video analysis, advanced statistics and calculations, and greater customization of data displays on a PC or Mac®, then check out our PASCO Capstone™ software.
Since SPARKvue was first released, it has been winning awards, and we never stop improving it. With the latest major release of SPARKvue 4, we’ve continued to add features without adding complexity. A new Welcome Screen makes it easy to get started and discover SPARKvue’s capabilities. Whether you want to add data manually, use sensors for real-time or remote logging, or open one of the hundreds of existing labs, this is your starting place.
Using a USB or an interface, with SPARKvue you can just plug-and-play with nearly one-hundred sensors via Bluetooth®, which pairs wireless sensors through a simple in-app list (no system settings are required). PASCO understands that classrooms and labs can be hectic, so SPARKvue allows you to simply select a sensor from the sorted list (the closest sensors are first) and match a 6-digit laser-etched ID number to get connected. This method works even when there are dozens of Bluetooth sensors in the same lab.
Once you’ve selected a sensor, choose from a template or QuickStart Experiment, or you can build a page to meet your needs. SPARKvue is designed for inquiry, and students are not constrained to a few pre-selected layouts… the software can support expanding capabilities with ease.
Collecting and visualizing data is easy with an array of displays, and the tools you need for analysis are right at your fingertips. Students can annotate data, apply curve fits, compare runs, create calculations, and much more! In-context tools make it simple to find what you’re looking for, which means that students spend their time learning the science, not the software.
Whether you’re teaching K–8, high school, or college students, SPARKvue has the displays and tools you need to collect and analyze data. The basics you’d expect (such as digits, meter, graph, and table) are all included, but you will also find FFT, bar graphs, map display, embedded assessment questions, video playback, image capture, and analysis, as well as space for text and images. The labs you can build are only limited by your time and creativity.
Data Sharing and Export
When it’s time for students to submit their work, SPARKvue supports a variety of formats, and its export tools make it easy for educators. Students can easily snapshot their work in SPARKvue and submit an image, export the data to a .csv file to work in a spreadsheet, or save it in our .spklab format when they can come back and do more work in the future. SPARKvue also supports many other apps for saving or sharing data, including Google Drive on Chromebooks™.
If students are collaborating on a lab activity across devices, they can set up a shared session and stream results in real-time. Then, when the session is over, each student will have a copy of the data to analyze independently. These sessions can be set up in seconds within a student group, or the entire class can share the data from a teacher demonstration.
Live Data Bar: See sensor readings before you start sampling.
Periodic sampling: Automatic sampling proceeds at a fixed rate.
Manual sampling: Saves data only when a user specifies.
Graph, including multiple plot areas and axes.
Weather Dashboard (when used with the Wireless Weather Sensor with GPS)
Scale-to-fit: Adjust axis for optimal view of the data.
Data Selection: Easily select a portion of the data for analysis.
Prediction Tool: Visualize a prediction alongside the data.
Smart Tool: Find data point coordinates and calculate delta values.
Calculations Tools for Statistics: Easily get basic statistics (min/max/mean) and more.
Slope Tool: Find the slope of a point.
Curve Fits: 10 different curve fits with goodness of fit values.
User Annotation: Easily add text annotations to runs or points.
Easily add a y-axis or a new plot area.
Designed for Science Learning
Convenient annotation, snapshot, and electronic journaling are among the features that support peer dialogue, classroom presentations, and assessment.
Create and export electronic student lab journals.
Integrated with cloud-based file-sharing services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and more.
The Same User Experience Across:
Graph data from a sensor & see the results in real-time.
A Bar Graph used to investigate absorbance.
Boyle’s Law using both manually entered & sensor data.
Weather dashboard to monitor atmospheric conditions.
The new entry screen makes getting started even easier. Choose from three entry paths.
Download the latest update or give it a try for free.
Filesize: 250.32 MB
Released: Dec 13th, 2019
Download Free Trial Download Update
Filesize: 132.67 MB
Released: Dec 13th, 2019
Free Apps for iPhones, iPads, Android tablets and Chromebooks
These SPARKvue apps provide the complete software install so that the user experience is the same regardless of platform. Updates for these apps are handled via direct notification and installation on your device, including SPARK LX/LXi users.
Windows 7 SP1 or later
Processor: 2 GHz or greater
RAM: 2 GB or greater
Disk Space: 459 MB or greater
Resolution: 1024 x 768 or greater
Mac OS X v 10.11 or later
Processor: 1 GHz or greater
RAM: 2 GB or greater
Disk Space: 202 MB or greater
Resolution: 1024 X 768 or greater
Chrome OS v70 or later
iOS v9 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Android v5.0 or later. Compatible with tablets or phones.
Let me paint you a picture. Not something physicists normally do but I’ll give it a shot.
I teach in a small town in BC. For most of my career it has been lower on the social-economic scale, a true blue-collar place but things are changing. More and more people are being pushed out of the big cities due to high house prices and ending up here where life is more laid back, more affordable, more idyllic?
Again, for most of my career the supplies I have had access to are the same supplies that came with the school when it was built…back in the 1950s. Trying to modernize my lab has been a challenge but just like the city, things are changing.
I’ve used PASCO products since my university days and have always found them to be intuitive and practical. When I had the chance, I purchased some of their GLX data loggers for demo purposes. I started to show the students the power of probeware and they yearned for more. Yes, I used yearn to describe students. I know, almost unheard of.
When I procured the funding to buy a class set of the GLXs after buying one a year for 5 years I was ecstatic. I called PASCO to order and was told that they were discontinued. I was bummed. What now? They told me about their new product, the Spark LX as a tablet data logger. I was intrigued. Many discussions happened, and I started to get on board. PASCO even took some of my suggestions about what I thought the logger should entail. After months of waiting they finally arrived; just in time for the start of a new school year.
I happily got to setting them all up and preparing their first interactions with the devices. I would use the Match-Graph software to give my physics students some hands-on real life to graph interactions. After a few hiccups of the airlinks needing firmware updates which my school computer wouldn’t allow I had the students head out into the school to test out the Spark and the software.
The looks we got from the other students and staff started as bewilderment. “What is his class up to now?” was heard more than once. My students didn’t even hear. They were too engaged to notice. The beginner graphs which were too hard mere seconds ago were now too easy. Harder graphs please. Harder and harder they went and the more competitive they got. “I’m addicted to this!” one student exclaimed. “I get it now.” Yelled another. They were hooked at first use.
I can’t wait to see how the next experiment goes. This is how technology should work in class. Relating physical experience to life experience to learning.
Glenn Grant has been teaching physics, math and science for 20 years in a small town called Mission, BC.
“For most of my career I’ve been using equipment from the 1960s. I was the first person in my district to start using a Smart Board and then started getting into sensors about 10 years ago. Since then I’ve cobbled together whatever I can to give my students access to something from the current century. I believe that technology has a place in the classroom as a tool to further the learning. Using the new PASCO equipment we can do labs 100 times a class and the discussion becomes more in-depth. Why did they choose the data set they are using? What makes that data “better”? Can you replicate the graph on the board using the equipment. It allows for more actual science than just content memorization. As I deepen my understanding of the equipment and its uses, I’ve been teaching the other members of my department and other teachers in the district. I’m not an expert yet but I’m working on it.”
Earlier this year PASCO released a new Wireless Weather Sensor. It collects temperature, humidity, UV, wind, and more. The sensor also has a GPS! The folks at PASCO then embedded ArcGIS into their SPARKvue software that manages the sensors and allows for data analysis and visualization. Of course you can always export your data and load into a map at ArcGIS.com.
The all-in-one instrument can record up to 17 different measurements individually or simultaneously! Use the sensor in logging mode with the optional Weather Vane Accessory for long-term monitoring, or use it as a hand-held instrument to study microclimates and record ambient conditions relevant to many biological and environmental phenomena.