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Just another day in the lab…

The bell rings.  Time to start class. 

We are doing another lab today and today we will use the new technology!  Cheers erupt from the class.

Yes, for today’s lab there will be no ticker tape.  No counting dots!  Welcome to SPARKvue!  Everybody turn on your Sparks and open the software. 

Mr. Grant?  Mine says it needs a software update.

Go ahead and do it.

It won’t let me.

Oh, right.  I go over and update.

Turn on your smart carts and connect them to SPARKvue.

Mine says it needs a firmware update.  Mine too.  And me!

Of course.  Update all using my phone as it is faster than trying to get the Sparks to do it for some reason.

Are we ready?  Allow the carts to roll down the ramp freely.  Take data of time, position and velocity.  Graph velocity vs time.  What sort of shape are we looking for?

Straight lines!

Good.  Go for it.

Mr. Grant.  We aren’t getting any data.

Is it recording?  The button changing from green to red and back again?

Yes.

Let me try…hmm…you are right.  Let me see…Oh.  You switched it to manual recording.  Set it to periodic and try again.

Still nothing.

Let me see again.  You have a frequency of 1 Hz.  The cart is going too quickly to get data.  Change your frequency.  Is everybody else getting data?

Yes.  Sure.  My button isn’t responding.

Try a lighter touch.

Now it is.

Do around 50 runs.  Figure out which run is your best one and why.

Does the whole graph need to be straight?

What do you think?

No…?

Right.

Once you have your best run copy down the table and then graph it.  Your graph on paper should resemble the one on the Spark.

Do we need to copy down all the data?

How much do you have?

150 points.

<sigh>  What do you think?

No…?

Why not?

That is more than need to show the pattern?

Good.

Time to put the equipment away.  Please make sure it is turned off.  What did we think about the new way of doing the lab?

Updates were frustrating.

Granted.

Took us a while to get used to it.

Fair enough.

Still way better than ticker tape though.

Good.

The View From a Small Town Physics Classroom

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.”

Going Wireless: Shifting Augustana’s First-years Labs

Written by: David King, University of Alberta – Augustana Campus

The Augustana Campus chemistry labs have traditionally been perfectly acceptable, but have yielded somewhat standard chemistry experiments with very typical analysis. As a satellite campus of the University of Alberta, located in Camrose, Alberta, we have strived to be almost an extension of our North Campus sibling, which has proved problematic within the constraints of a 100 kilometers distance. Recently, things have changed. Last summer, we diverged from this straightforward and customary path and decided to do something slightly different. Along with our newly renovated labs—that encourage thought and collaboration—we have fundamentally changed our first-year chemistry lab experiments, which mean that different analyzation techniques are needed. Gone are vitamin C titrations with Tang and tablets, replaced by extraction techniques and spectral analysis. Hand-held spectroscopes have been replaced with a fiber optic cable in a light emissions lab while also adding a light measurement for chemiluminescence.

Our previous vitamin C laboratory experiment was based in a traditional vein, where titrations were used to determine the vitamin C content in both Tang (a powdered orange drink very few students today have ever experienced) and 500mg vitamin C tablets. Being a “traditional” lab exercise meant that most students likely had seen this done in high school or had done this very titration themselves. Our goal was to create an experience where the students learn a new analytical technique by extracting vitamin C from a pepper, then determining the vitamin C concentration from a standard calibration curve on a PASCO Wireless Spectrometer. All of these skills are taught in the first week of this exercise. Week two is all about the inquisitive nature and enthusiasm of the first-year chemistry students. We wanted them to start critically thinking about what they read and whether or not it is scientifically sound, and we also wanted students to gain confidence in their research abilities right away, both in a laboratory setting and with data analysis. The idea is that students would formulate a research question and then create a hypothesis to test in the lab to add to their skills. Since the PASCO Wireless Spectrometers allow us to keep data sets, we could use the same calibration curves throughout the testing.

Student Myths Tested:

  • Different cooking methods affect on Vitamin C
  • Different storage methods affect on Vitamin C
  • Freshly squeezed vs. prepackaged juice
  • Over the counter vitamin C supplements vs. natural sources
  • Comparing vitamin C content of fruits and vegetables from different international origins

Light emissions lab experiments can be tedious at best. You need to constantly be looking through a hand-held spectroscope, which is exactly what we were asking our students to do. Also, we were looking at lights, flame tests and emission tubes with said spectroscopes. Throughout all of this, we weren’t asking the students to really do anything else, chemically speaking. Chemiluminescence and chromatography columns were two things we decided to add into our updated labs, along with the fiber optic cable accessory for the Wireless Spectrometers (as well as scaling back the spectroscope use). In the first part of our experiment, students would activate a glow stick and add the content to our 3D printed Light Calorimeter, then read the light emitted using the PASCO Wireless Light Sensor. From here, students would take the glow stick content and run it through a silica gel column to remove the chemical that activates the “glow”, then read the light emitted again. Peroxide and sodium salicylate would then be added to get the “glow” to return, and one last reading on SPARKvue would be taken.

By using this method, we wanted students to learn not only about columns and their ability to separate mixtures but also to get comfortable learning how to collect data using a sensor and a data logger (in this case an iPad). In the second part of our experiment, we still use traditional light emission tubes (Argon, Helium, etc.) where we use spectroscopes to obtain the emission spectrum lines. For the hydrogen tube, however, we set up the fiber optic cable accessory and the PASCO Wireless Spectrometer to get the most precise emission light spectrum we can. Ideally, the students learn both techniques but come away with the appreciation for the newer tech.

Changing these two experiments to incorporate PASCO equipment and using different techniques has allowed the students to get a more modern feel for newer types of equipment and techniques that are more advanced than your “standard chemistry type” experiments.

Since the wireless sensors are easily incorporated into our lab designs, we have set our sights on adding the brand new PASCO Wireless Colorimeter to our forensic based Escape Box Lab to give students an idea how an analysis of this type could be performed in the field.

We also have a unique laboratory based three-week course for non-science majors that utilizes the PASCO Wireless CO2 sensor in an interesting way. Our laboratory future is both bright and innovative, and more importantly, possible, with the tools from PASCO at our disposal.

 

PASCO products mentioned in this article:

Jason Pilots Ice Cream Webinar: June 13, 2018

I scream, you scream we all scream for ICE CREAM!! Everyone loves ice cream and kids love making it.

In this presentation we look at how you can teach some kinetic molecular theory, intermolecular forces and even heats of reaction/calorimetry while making ice cream.

This lesson has been done with grade 9 applied level classes as well as grade 11 University Prep Chemistry. It can easily be tailored for senior physics and chemistry.

Students get a chance to see how state of matter affects temperature (using the PASCO Wireless Temperature Sensor), in real time, and how adding salt to ice can drop the temperature even further even though it is changing into a liquid! We then do some simple calorimetry with different forms of food to get an idea of how much energy is stored in them.

Jason Pilot is currently the Department Head of Science at Sir Winston Churchill C&VI in Thunder Bay, ON. He has been teaching Science for 17 years. Jason focuses on the integration of technology into instruction and assessment incorporated into problem and inquiry based experiential learning.

Engage Students with Personalized Learning Strategies

Bryan Ouellette is an Educator, Explorer and overall technology Enthusiast who enjoys discovering strategies that allow students the opportunity to investigate various concepts through personalized learning. With over a decade of classroom experience, District Lead Positions and Provincial Committees, Bryan is committed to transforming classrooms into an environment where learning happens willingly.

Bryan takes a look at the new PASCO Wireless Weather Sensor, how it works and how it can be used in classrooms. This journey will not only take you from the windy parts of the prolonged winter in New Brunswick, but also to depths of the abilities that this new PASCO Weather Sensor can provide.

The Wireless Weather Sensor with GPS is an all-in-one instrument for monitoring environmental conditions. A built-in anemometer as well as sensing elements for temperature, humidity, pressure, light, and GPS the sensor provides up to 17 different measurements that can be used 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. Conduct GIS/mapping experiments using the onboard GPS sensor in conjunction with any of the other available measurements. The new map display in PASCO’s SPARKvue software provides a way for students to analyze spatial data.

 

Products shown:

Kinematics for Senior Physics

Rick Debenedetti shares his experience with using a class set of Smart Carts to explore kinematics.  His presentation includes tips and demonstrations using SPARKvue software to introduce displacement, velocity and acceleration to a grade 11 physics class.

Learn how wireless technology allows students to explore authentic learning experiences within a limited time frame. Using wireless sensors means teachers can focus on the students rather than the equipment, and students are more likely to enjoy and learn from the activities, as they feel natural and are spontaneous.

This session demonstrates kinematics for senior physics.

The PASCO Smart Cart is the ultimate tool for studying kinematics, dynamics and more. It features built-in sensors that measure force, position, velocity, and 6 degrees of freedom in acceleration. Measurements can be made both on or off a dynamics track and transmit the data wirelessly over Bluetooth®.

Clayton Ellis – Enzyme Catalysis Webinar – February 22, 2018

There is a great deal of biochemistry in the science curriculum that is a part of the foundational knowledge. One of the major molecules of study are proteins including how they are able to catalyze reactions.
The PASCO pressure sensor provides a very easy method and relatively quick way to determine how various factors might affect the rate of reaction. Students can then infer how the enzyme might be denatured due to the decrease in activity.
PASCO Products Used:
PASport Absolute Pressure Sensor
Alternately the Wireless Pressure Sensor can be used for this experiment.

Inverse Square Law

Rick Debenedetti from Streetsville Secondary School in Mississauga demonstrates how to use a Smartphone, a Smart Cart and a Wireless Light Sensor to investigate the relationship between light intensity and the distance from a single point source of light.

Materials Used

PAStrack (ME-6960) $146
Wireless Light Sensor (PS-3213)
Wireless Smart Cart (ME-1241) $295
Smart Phone with Flashlight App

Assembly

  1. Place the light sensor on the Smart Cart with the Spot light sensors facing forward (opposite end of the plunger)
  2. Align the light sensor to the Smartphone’s flashlight as shown in the picture. To get the proper height raise the track using the adjustable legs of the PASTrack.
  3. Using the PASTracks built-in scale position the base of the Spot Light sensor 20 cm from the Smart Phones Flashlight.

Software Setup

  1. Within the SPARKvue software Connect Wirelessly to both the Light Sensor and Smart Cart.
  2. Open the SPARKlab file ‘Inverse Square Law’ file which plots Light Intensity against Position with a 20 cm offset.

Collecting Data

  1. One person should be controlling the Smart Cart and Smartphone and another controlling the software
  2. Turn the Smartphone’s Flashlight on
  3. Click on the SPARKvue ‘Play’ button
  4. Slowly roll the Smart cart away from the Smartphone at a steady pace. The light sensor is only sampling at 2 HZ so moving too quickly will result in too few plotted data points. The Smart Carts position sensor will accurately record the distance that the Smart Cart travels
  5. Once the cart reaches near the end of the track stop the recording of data

Analyzing Results

  1. From the Tool box bar select the tool box icon to expand the bar
  2. From the expanded tool box select the ‘Scale to fit’ icon
  3. Next click on the ‘Curve to Fit’ icon and select the ‘Inverse Square Fit’ menu option

The Blue Line shows the connected data points of the light sensor readings plotted against the Smart Carts position sensor readings. The red line is the applied Inverse Square Fit. Notice how well the Inverse Square Fit curve matches the plotted data.

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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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