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PASCO Wins Best of STEM for 2023 Educators Pick Awards

We are excited to share that three PASCO products have been chosen as Best of STEM Winners!

Educators Pick Best of STEM is a program designed to rank and award outstanding innovations in STEM education with educators as the judges. Winners are chosen through an aggregate vote based on the criteria for the product category.

This year, PASCO submitted three entries which all won their category! Read about each of them below, and also check out the press release by GlobeNewswire here featuring PASCO Academy and our Meter Stick Optics Complete System: Science Educators Name PASCO Scientific as Best of STEM in Two Categories.

PASCO Academy | Best of STEM: Video-Based Learning

PASCO Academy is a comprehensive library of digital hands-on resources for students both inside and outside the classroom. There are three versions: Physics Academy, Chemistry Academy, and Biology Academy.

PASCO Academy is designed to do some of the heavy lifting for science educators by providing digital curriculum, including activities and resources, that integrates with existing classroom lessons. With PASCO Academy, educators have access to a plethora of distance learning curriculum, virtual labs, data sets, and on-demand PD, enabling them to pick and choose which resources to utilize.

PASCO Academy supports student learning by having them not only study science, but also do science: Students gather their own data, conduct data analysis, and use downloadable resources like instructional videos to develop and support their conclusions. They can even share their collected data to multiple devices (or stream it live!) to collaborate with their peers, as scientists do.

The PASCO Academy provides distance learning video segments, including a weekly overview video, a virtual lab investigation with corresponding student activities, and a follow-up video that ties the week’s learning objectives together. Registered educators have access to the Academy Portal, where they can access a library of distance learning videos, student labs, sample data files, links to relevant information within the included Essential curriculum, and more.

E-learning, hybrid classes, student and teacher absences, and short class times can limit the amount of quality hands-on learning that science students are exposed to. PASCO Academy is comprehensive enough that you can have your substitute teacher run the lab, keeping your class schedule on track when you can’t be there.

 


Meter Stick Optics Complete System | Best of STEM: Physics

 

PASCO’s Meter Stick Optics Complete System encourages student observation, measurement, and analysis of optics, all in a compact and simple system.

Component holders easily attach to the meter stick and include an indicator window so students can accurately measure their position. Lenses are built into cases with holding tabs to prevent fingerprints and add durability when students interchange them between holders. The system includes a bright, rechargeable light source that can easily be seen in a lit classroom, and the viewing screens are designed so the projected image is bright and clear.

The system’s compact and durable design allows students to quickly and accurately maneuver components, making multiple investigations possible in the span of one class period.


Coding with Vehicle Sensor Technologies Kit | Trailblazer Award: Cross-Curricular Coding

The //code.Node is a revolutionary device that uses Blockly, sensors, and feedback to teach students coding skills and data literacy. The pocket-size coding solution includes encodable sensors for light, motion, sound, and magnetic fields, as well as a speaker, RGB light, and 5×5 LED array. Using PASCO software and the //code.Node, students can create custom experiments that range from simple data collection to advanced, measurement-based sensory feedback. As they execute their code, students collect real-time data and visual feedback that helps them improve with each activity.

The Coding with Vehicle Sensor Technologies Kit is geared towards new coders with a simple wireless design that uses block-based coding, allowing students to focus on the basics of programming without worrying about syntax. The //code.Node Cart has a spinning magnet on its wheels that the attachable //code.Node detects, allowing students to determine the cart’s distance and velocity. Five thorough investigations are included in the kit, featuring video lessons and student worksheets, all accessible through a convenient digital flipbook.

The //code.Node lets students go beyond computer animations to controlling output devices like speakers and LED lights, and the included activities integrate live data collection and analysis so students are challenged to observe, question, and retest their theories.

STEM Education Inspires Teen to Solve the Food Transport Issue

On April 20th, 2023, yahoo!finance shared an inspiring story about a High School Junior from Illinois coming up with a solution to bring more produce to the grocery store shelves. Through her utilization of sensors, the teen tracked the ethylene measurements of the crop’s output and adjusted temperature and humidity levels to lengthen the crop’s lifespan. This revolutionizing idea significantly reduces the loss of crops from transportation, solving one of the world’s toughest problems.

To read more about this story, please visit ‘Solving the World’s Tough Problems Through STEM’.


Our Take…

What started as an inspiration from the teen’s STEM classes became the very first step in her journey to changing the world. The school provided the teen the necessary resources and support to embark upon her project. Hence, it is with great promise that with the right tools and motivation, any student from any school can become inspired, begin their own project, and then become the world’s inspiration.

This article made us think of PASCO’s Wireless CO2 Sensor, Temperature Sensor, and Weather Sensor and how these tools can be used beyond the classroom through solving the world’s toughest problems in agriculture and sustainability.

It is more than just learning a subject, it is the key that will spark innovation and creativity in more young minds. 

Growing Tomatoes With the Greenhouse Sense & Control Kit

Over the last couple of months, AYVA Educational Solutions has been growing tomato plants from the Let’s Talk Science Tomatosphere project. In this project, you are given two unknown packets of seeds, labeled T and U. One packet of seeds have been to space, while the other has not. The purpose of this experiment is to germinate and grow the tomato plants from both packets, tracking their growth, and hypothesizing which plants are the space seeds! You can guess which ones you think are the space seeds in the survey at the bottom of this post! Submit your hypothesis and you will automatically be entered into a raffle to win a free PASCO Wireless Temperature Sensor! If you would like to find out which seeds have been to space we encourage you to participate in this fantastic program!! Sign up for your own packet of seeds here.

We used PASCO’s ST-2997 Greenhouse Sense and Control Kit to monitor and regulate conditions for optimal growth! By researching the optimal growing conditions for a tomato plant, we adjusted the levels of the greenhouse system to meet those needs.

Using Blockly, we block coded the Greenhouse conditions we desired, programming a 24 hour sunlight and watering cycle, and ensuring the temperature stayed at 23 degrees Celsius at all times. Once the code was exported into the //control.Node, we planted 3 seeds from each packet on the appropriate sides (T or U).

We tracked the growth of our plants from January 20th to March 31st, as they developed, they went from seeds to leafy plants.

After just one week of being inside the Greenhouse, three out of six seeds germinated and sprouted! As a couple more weeks went by, two more seeds sprouted. Unfortunately, one seed (on the T side) did not germinate. Overall totaling three plants on the U side, two on the T side. At this point, we hypothesized which of the seeds had been to space and which had not, and wrote down our predictions to compare to the results later on. You can share your predictions in the survey at the bottom of this post, and find out which seeds were the space seeds!

In the fourth week of growth we decided to name the plants so that they could be more easily identified, charted, and referred to. On the U side, we named the tomato plants Tennessee, Toby, and Tiny Tim. Then on the T side, we named the plants Thiara and Theodore. Tiny Tim was the smallest plant during the beginning of the growth period, while Tennessee was the largest of the seedlings. Thiara also germinated the latest of any of the seeds, excluding the one seed that never sprouted. She quickly caught up to the others though, and in the 4th week she was the 3rd tallest of them.

After 6 weeks of growth, the plants were beginning to falter as they combatted against one another for nutrients and water. To replenish what they lost, we decided to separate the plants. Three of the plants, Tennessee, Tiny Tim and Thiara were moved to their own pots. However, Toby and Theodore remained in the self-regulating greenhouse to continue identical conditions. Within days of separating the plants, they all began to look healthier as they received the nutrients and space that they needed.

Into the ninth week of the experiment, the plants are growing taller and broader. Now that they each have their own space, they are able to thrive. The featured photo on the right shows Tennessee healthy and strong! With no one contesting him for nutrients, he is tall, green and healthy. At this point, they are almost fully mature, and will be entering the flowering stage shortly. This week we decided to reveal the answer to the lingering question we had been wondering for months – which seeds had been to space? Was it Theodore and Thiara (T Side)? Or perhaps did Toby, Tiny Tim and Tennessee (U side) spend some time in space? Find out the answer below!

Shoutout to the PASCO Greenhouse, as this project could not have been as successful without it! The self-regulating greenhouse allowed us to grow the plants healthy and strong -with minimal intervention from us. We were able to germinate 5/6 seeds and maintain the ideal moisture and temperature levels for the plants to grow, even amidst a cold and dark winter with many days out of the office. PASCO’s Greenhouse is the perfect educational kit for your classroom, teaching students several ecological concepts such as photosynthesis, anatomy of plants, and the ways different conditions affect the growth of plants – all with the new focus and importance of coding. You can start the Tomatosphere project yourself, and facilitate it with the Greenhouse Sense and Control Kit as well.

Make sure to answer the survey below to find out which seeds have been to space and for a chance to win a PASCO Wireless Temperature Sensor! We would love to hear what you think, so share your guesses with us, and your reasoning if you have any!


Featured Products:

PASCO ST-2997 Greenhouse Sense and Control Kit

SPARKvue

Wireless Temperature Sensor


Tracking Acceleration During A Hockey Game

Acceleration and velocity are present everywhere in life, from sports to driving, to walking around. With PASCO’s Wireless Acceleration Altimeter, I decided to see what I can learn from the 7 different data points that it records.

As a hockey player for 18 years, I’ve always wondered how quickly I’m moving on the ice, having never seen myself skate or recorded my speed. I assume of course, that I am right up there with Connor McDavid in terms of speed. I expect the sensor to be able to confirm that for me, while also telling me even more information – my acceleration and velocity in the x, y, and z directions.

The first step in my experiment was to put the sensor into remote data logging mode, so that the altimeter is recording data into its internal storage, instead of needing to be connected to a phone or computer.

When setting up the altimeter, I changed the frequency to 5 Hz, (5 data points per second). The altimeter can record up to 200 Hz but has a limited capacity for how much data it can keep in its internal storage. Once I had put the sensor into remote data logging mode, I used the included Velcro straps to attach it to the back of my shin guard and got ready to step onto the ice.

For the first 9 minutes of the data recording, I am putting all of my equipment on, so the velocity and acceleration are relatively low as I stay within the dressing room.  At the 10-minute mark warm-up begins. For these 5 minutes, I’m constantly moving while I’m skating on the ice, so the acceleration is constantly changing and staying at numbers of higher magnitude.

The magnitude of the data is also slightly decreasing during the 5-minute stretch as I slow down and conserve more energy for the game. When comparing the peaks of this stretch to the peaks of acceleration later on, it’s clear that I wasn’t accelerating as much in warm-ups as I would be when I was playing the game.

At the 15-minute mark, the game begins and I’m on the bench for the first shift, but at 18.5 minutes I get on the ice. There are bursts of acceleration as I get up to speed and little sections of coasting until 19 minutes when there’s a stoppage in play and the acceleration goes down and remains relatively constant. When the play resumes my acceleration begins to spike and then fluctuates throughout the natural progression of the game, as I coast at times and race to get the puck at others.

Over the course of the rest of the game, the peaks and valleys of the graph show clearly when I was on the ice accelerating and decelerating, and when I was on the bench, with the little movement just being from sliding across the bench or standing up to cheer on a goal.

In the different peaks in the graph, it can be seen which shifts I accelerated the most, and which I had a bit less energy. On the first shift of the game, my peak acceleration is 32 m/s2, which is high, but not the highest acceleration of the game. On this shift though, there are 60 data points where my acceleration is greater than 15 m/s2.

Because we are recording at 5 Hz, we can take that to mean that there are 12 seconds in which my acceleration is greater than 15 m/s2. This is not all in one 12-second stretch though, it’s spread out throughout the shift in groupings or bursts of acceleration. By comparison, the shift with the next highest amount of data points over 15 m/s2 is my 4th shift, in which there are 50 such points, or approximately 10 seconds. This 2-second difference is evidence to point towards my fatigue, as the number of such data points decreased more as the game went on, with the final full-length shift containing only 34 of these points (6.8 seconds).

The highest acceleration recorded is 34 m/s2, and that is on the 5th shift of the game. It would seem abnormal that my highest acceleration would be on the 5th shift, as I am already more tired at this point. There is context to explain the abnormality though – on the 5th shift we broke out on a 2-on-1 and I had to accelerate as fast as I could to free myself up to receive the pass and score a goal.

Overall it was a very interesting and insightful experience looking into the data surrounding my skating and gameplay. While I don’t think my acceleration is quite up to par with Connor McDavid, I can say I’m satisfied with my results and happy that the data logging had ended by the time I ended up in the penalty box.

With the Acceleration Altimeter, there are so many cool and interesting ways to record and examine data, and I got a fascinating look at just one of the possibilities by taking it with me during my hockey game. Additionally, there are other data points that weren’t useful for my experience, with angular velocity, altitude, and acceleration in the z direction – playing hockey on a flat sheet of ice somewhat limits how much vertical movement can be performed. I’m excited to dig deeper into the data and for other possibilities and opportunities in the future to learn more, using PASCO’s wireless sensors.

Featured Products:

Wireless Accelerometer/Altimeter

SPARKvue

Connecting Ontario’s New Science Curriculum to PASCO’s STEM Sense Products

To some degree, all technology today includes coding. With coding becoming more relevant than ever, Ontario science courses are now integrating coding into the curriculum.

The Ontario Grade 9 science curriculum states:

Coding environments allow for rapid ideating, prototyping, testing, and evaluating as students refine and debug their projects.

One way students can apply these skills is through robotics. The PASCObot is a fun way to teach students about data, robotics, programming, and sense and control. Using Blockly coding, students can make the PASCObot move, navigate and avoid objects, follow a line or path, and many more. The PASCObot encourages students to problem solve and overcome challenges to achieve a goal.

In the Ontario Grade 9 science course, a key goal is:

Providing students with the skills and knowledge required to apply engineering design processes to help find solutions to complex problems.

The //control.Node Sense & Control Kit includes materials and instructions for six projects that use elements of the engineering design process to turn on lights, run a cooling fan, open doors, launch rubber bands, and more. The activities allow students to gain skills in designing, building, and problem-solving by writing and executing code.

I had the opportunity of trying two of the projects associated with the kit:

In the Engineering a Winch activity, students engineer a device that can lift and place down an object. In this activity, you start by putting together a pulley device using a winch wheel and a high-speed stepper motor. By measuring the circumference of the wheel, you can calculate the number of rotations required to move the string and magnet a certain distance to pick up a paperclip. Using Blockly coding, students have to find a way to program the wheel to rotate according to the measurements taken.

The Nightlight activity teaches students how coding with loops and conditions can be used in a real-life setting. By covering the light sensor on the //code.Node, students can analyze how brightness is affected by looking at the live data on SPARKvue. This provides students with data that they can interpret to create code that will turn the light bulb on when brightness is below a certain percentage.

A key change in the biology portion of the Grade 9 science curriculum is:

Students will have an opportunity to learn about the many factors that contribute to ecosystem sustainability, including soil health, air and water quality, biodiversity, and succession. 

The Greenhouse Sense & Control Kit provides experiments that encourage students to gain hands-on experience in each of these topics. Students can design, build, program, and study their very own greenhouse.

In our experience with the Greenhouse Sense & Control Kit, we decided to design an environment for a Ring of Fire Pepper Plant. We had to research conditions that would be essential for the plant to grow. This included factors such as relative humidity, temperature, soil moisture, hours of sunlight, and how much water it needs each week. The Greenhouse Sense & Control kit provides the materials for students to design the greenhouse for the plants’ needs. Through code, you can program a fan, grow light, and irrigation system to provide the optimal conditions for your plant. This teaches students how changes due to soil, water, air, and temperature in an ecosystem can affect a plant’s growth in good and bad ways. The activities provided by this kit allow students to learn about ecosystem sustainability firsthand and in real-time.

PASCO Wins Two Best of STEM Awards

Originally posted on pasco.com July 21, 2022.

Educators chose the PASCO Meter Stick Torque Set as the 2022 winner for Best of STEM: Physics and PASCO’s STEM Sense & Control Kits for Best of STEM: Engineering.

We are thrilled to share that the PASCO Meter Stick Torque Set and STEM Sense & Control Kits have been named winners of the 2022 Educators Pick Best of STEM Awards! This year’s competition was stiff, and it is an honor to have our innovations recognized by the program’s distinguished educator judges. Check out highlights from their reviews below!

PASCO has reinvented the Meter Stick Torque Kit into a core piece of equipment in the STEM toolkit. The Meter Stick Torque Set is integrated with all of PASCO’s other products (and others by other manufacturers), and has various online experiments, videos, and teacher resources, so that it can easily be incorporated into lesson plans.

– Judge, Educators Pick Best of STEM Awards

PASCO’s STEM Sense & Control connects students to the science and engineering of tomorrow. Smart homes are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, and through the use of the STEM Sense & Control [line], students can learn by designing their own engineering products. It’s real-world learning for today’s connected students.

– Judge, Educators Pick Best of STEM Awards

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!

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.

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