Last week saw delegates from more than 40 different countries gather at PASCO’s head office in California to share success stories about how educators are using PASCO solutions to acheive their STEM goals. I was excited to see several new pieces of equipment including sensors for all sciences.
Wireless Sound Sensor (PS-3227)
This is a wireless Bluetooth sensor that connects to any device loaded with either Sparkvue or Capstone software. As is the case with other Pasco wireless sensors this sensor is more powerful than the older sensor it replaces. It can be used to measure sound levels in decibels as well as to show the waveform of a sound in addition to an FFT display to show the frequencies present.
In the recent past when I have worked with teachers to design a physics lab most of the sensor requirements can be filled by Pasco’s new line of wireless sensors, including the smart cart. I then recommend that they consider purchasing at least one 550 or 850 universal interface so that they can use the ScienceWorkshop sound sensor to study sound waves and FFT displays. In addition the built-in signal generator will allow them to generate sine waves over a large frequency range. The AC/DC module described below can carry out this signal generator function. Thus, purchasing the wireless sound sensor and the wireless AC/DC module much of the work formerly left to the 550 can now be accomplished by the less expensive wireless units.
Wireless AC/DC Module (EM-3533)
This wireless module connects via Bluetooth to any device loaded with Capstone or Sparkvue. It connects nicely with other modules in the modular electricity package giving teachers the choice of using this rather than purchasing batteries.
As shown in the video this unit can produce DC output as well as sine, triangle and square waves.
The most recent versions of Capstone and SPARKvue include the ability to carry out Blockly coding. This coding can be used to control connected sensors and to react to measurements that they are making. It introduces students to coding as they use sensors to explore various science topics. It exposes them to logic that they are likely to encounter later in life if they pursue science and/or technology and so it becomes an important part of the STEM experience we try to generate for our students.
To make it easier to introduce students to Blockly coding PASCO has developed the //code.Node (PS-3231). It includes the following built–in sensors: magnetic, motion, light, temperature, and sound.
Bill Konrad is a former Teacher and Science/Technology Consultant in South Western Ontario and currently supports AYVA’s customers as a PASCO Product Specialist. Details on how to reach Bill directly can be found here.
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.”
Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD) Chooses PASCO Science Solutions to Support an Innovative Curriculum.
In 2015, the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development launched an Action Plan for Education to renew, refocus, and rebuild the education system for the first time in a generation. As part of its efforts to create an innovative and streamlined curriculum in grades 4–6, the Department has purchased PASCO® Scientific science solutions for nearly 300 elementary schools from PASCO Canada.
AYVA Educational Solutions Ltd.The PASCO science solutions will be part of the Department of Education’s curriculum resource kit for grades 4–6. It will include SPARKvue®, a powerful yet easy to use science application that delivers data collection, visualization, and analysis tools in a content-rich, standards-based science learning and sharing environment. It will also include the PASPORT General Science Sensor, Weather Sensor, and Weather/Anemometer Sensor, as well as the AirLink interface, which will allow students to wirelessly connect the PASPORT sensors to their Chromebooks or iPads. Training will begin in May and the new streamlined curriculum resource kits will be introduced to students in the fall.
“Sensor-based investigations support inquiry-based learning and help students develop scientific literacy and technological literacy,” said Eric Therrien, information, communication and technology (ICT) mathematics and sciences consultant at the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. “The SPARKvue software and PASPORT sensors will allow students to collect, visualize, analyze, record, and assess data in and out of the classroom — all with the touch of a finger. Using these tools for data logging, students will have the opportunity to think and act like scientists, which will improve their learning and retention of core scientific concepts as well as their higher order cognitive skill development.”
With 29 watersheds in Saskatchewan, it is easy to take water for granted. Students at Dr. Martin LeBoldus Catholic High School in Regina are conducting authentic water quality assessments in the local Wascana watershed, and are gaining first hand experience in the value of protecting our water resources.
Desmond Hartney is a science teacher at Dr. Martin LeBoldus Catholic High School, and is using PASCO probeware with his students in the Environmental Science 20 course. Back in 2015 after speaking with a colleague about PASCO, Desmond decided to bolster his environmental science course with a datalogging solution that was compatible with a mixed device setting of iPads and smart phones.
Today, Desmond’s grade 11 students create their own investigations in which they test the water quality in the Wascana Creek and Wascana Lake at a number of different sites within the area. In doing so, Desmond has empowered students to gather relevant and reliable data. “Using PASCO’s Advanced Water Quality sensors, students measure the chemical indicators of the local water, such as pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity and total dissolved solids. Students also collect water samples to take back to the lab, and use the water quality colorimeter to test ammonia, phosphate and nitrate levels within the water using the PASCO ampoules”.
According to Desmond, gathering data with PASCO probes has enabled students to obtain firsthand water quality information that can be compared to provincial standards. “With the Bluetooth technology, students have the ability to download all the data directly to their phones, which simplifies the data collection process. Students then compare their findings to the Saskatchewan surface water quality objectives and assess the health of the watershed.” “The PASCO sensors provide students the opportunity to use state-of-the-art technology that biologists would be using in the field, while also allowing students to investigate issues that they are passionate about” says Desmond. In providing his students with access to these tools, Desmond is empowering them to develop technical, science-specific, employment critical skill sets. Providing access to tools used by real scientists!
Dr. Martin LeBoldus Catholic High School 2330 25 Ave, Regina, SK
With roughly 840 students, Bernice MacNaughton High School (BMHS) in Moncton, strives to provide a learning environment that promotes academic excellence, active citizenship, and involvement in the community. The Anglophone East School District works closely with local high schools to provide access to cutting edge technologies and resources. Recently Bryan Ouellete – Educational Support Teacher at the District – hosted a working session at the annual NBTA conference titled ‘Hands-on; Mind-on Learning (STEM)’, which focused on implementing inquiry-based learning strategies that provide students with experiential learning opportunities using PASCO probeware. BMHS has worked with the District and with Brilliant Labs in order to secure enough funding to acquire probeware for science instruction.
PASCO probes are used in grades 9-12 to collect real-time data for student experiments. Bryan Ouellete asked the teachers at BMHS how the use of probweare has transformed the way their students learn. “When students are measuring data with PASCO they can receive immediate feedback. They can witness how moving a plant closer to the window can increase oxygen production and decrease carbon dioxide inside the Ecozone. Students can measure air pressure daily and relate it to weather conditions. Furthermore, students can measure pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and temperature in our local stream and relate that to water quality”. The school is making the most out of their resources by using the probes across multiple grades and courses. The water quality sensors are used for Science 9/10, Enviro Sci 12 and Bio 11. The motion sensors combined with the Matchgraph software are used in Science 10 and Physics 11, and the Ecozone system, oxygen and carbon dioxide sensors are used in Bio 11 and Science 9/10.
When asked if the teachers found the tools beneficial, the response was overwhelmingly positive. “Absolutely! The probeware combined with the Airlink and tablet devices have taken our activities out of the classroom and into the field. We are no longer measuring results from ‘canned’ lab activities. Students are experimenting in realtime and can see instant results. It’s taken our students from being passive recipients of knowledge to being investigators. My plans are to create more opportunities to incorporate investigations with the probes into science classes at BMHS. Perhaps using the water quality sensors in Science 10 in order to combine the chemistry unit with the ecosystems unit.” “The hands-on investigative nature of probeware has allowed students to investigate, measure, collaborate and report in realtime. Why look at data from a text or internet source when we can have the students design an experiment and measure the results for themselves. I would love to have additional sensors in order to create more opportunities for experimentation.” Sharing resources to benefit all!
In 2013 the Avon Maitland District School Board began an iPad initiative that would see a 1:1 iPad to student ratio for all grade 7-10 students in the board. Mitchell District High School – with a student population of roughly 500 students in grades 7 to 12 – was one of the pilot schools for the project. Today, all grade 7-10 students at MDHS have their own iPads. Edward Havenga is a Tech Coach and Science Teacher at MDHS, and has seen the project evolve since its’ inception. “The science department at MDHS quickly recognized that those students with iPads could now obtain data directly on their devices, thereby saving time in data collection and analysis,” says Ed. “This allowed students to spot data trends immediately as well as to quickly spot errors.”
“We use PASCO probes in several different courses; the sensors are used by teachers for class demos, as well as by the students in student-led experimenting,” explains Ed. “Our grade 10 science students (SNC2P/SNC2D) use the sensors to evaluate the properties of acids/bases, and to study neutralization reactions. The students complete very simple titrations of acids/bases to watch the neutralization reaction progress. The use of the sensors enables the students to quickly visualize this chemical process. Our grade 11 chemistry students (SCH3U) use the probeware in solution chemistry. At the end of the unit, students are given an unknown solution and they analyze it for a variety of different properties. The study culminates with a written report on the purity of the water. Meanwhile in our grade 12 chemistry course(SCH4U), the sensors are used for titration curve analysis, calorimetry experiments and evaluation of electrochemical cells. We also have locally developed science classes in which we use the noncontact temperature probes on various light sources to gauge energy efficiency. We also use the sensors to measure voltage in parallel and series circuits. Prior to incorporating the PASCO probeware, it took teachers a long time to explain complicated concepts to students in a lab based setting because the graphing component was taking the students a long time to set up properly.”
Ed has seen how much the students benefit when given the opportunity to use PASCO sensors. “When students are able to see their data being collected and immediately graphed, it makes them more excited about their data. Prior to incorporating probeware, my experience was that students loved doing the experimenting but when they began creating the graphs they would lose interest and connection to the lab. Now with the SPARKvue App, data can be collected and graphed simultaneously (eg. titration curve) allowing students to visualize processes and results within the experiment, which reinforce the concepts we talk about in the class component of the course. This helps students with significant learning needs to access the data quickly without having to worry about setting up graphs and data tables. I find the probes simple to use and I can easily connect them to iPads or Chromebooks. The PASCO website has a wealth of information, including links to prepared labs that can be easily downloaded onto the iPads. SPARKvue is user friendly and it enables students to quickly and easily examine data in different forms.”
Byrne Creek Community Secondary School first opened its doors in 2005. Since then the school has enjoyed tremendous success, being the only school in Canada to have been awarded the ASCD Award for the work they have done to ensure students are academically challenged, healthy, safe, engaged and supported. Stephen Fuerderer is the Science Department head at Byrne Creek, and has been teaching science in the Burnaby School District since 1986. As an early adopter of technology to enhance instruction, he has seen schools purchase and stockpile various sensors and interface devices that were pricey, had a steep learning curve, and left teachers to learn how to use them without support. Today, Stephen is happy to say that “the PASCO sensors are very affordable, easy to use, much more intuitive to setup and use, and the learning curve isn’t too steep”.
Stephen has acquired a variety of new PASCO sensors (Voltage-current, Gas Pressure, Light, Magnetic field sensor to name a few), which he uses for live, in-class demos with real-time data acquisition. The collected data is projected onto a large screen for all students to visualize. Students ask questions, discuss how the experiment might be modified, and predict the outcome of those modifications. Stephen has been using the Voltage-Current sensor in a variety of experiments. Simple Circuit Experiment: using a small light bulb and battery, students investigate what happens to the amount of current in the circuit when more batteries are used. They determine if the light bulb is Ohmic and if a resistor Ohmic. Students are able to explore Kirkhoff’s Laws and Ohm’s Law. RC Circuits: students evaluate which factors affect the charging rate of a capacitor. Investigations are conducted to determine what the effect on charging rate is when capacitors are added in series and parallel. They are also able to investigate the potential difference across capacitors arranged in series or parallel.
What started out as a teacher guided demo, turns into an open-inquiry lab where students decide how to design the experiment and which measurements should be made. Once the students start asking questions and suggesting modifications to the experiment, things get very interesting. “The best way to learn science is by doing science”, says Stephen. “These sensor-based investigations provide students with experiential, hands on science. The new wireless sensors are amazing. They provide me with the freedom to quickly setup an experiment in one corner of the room and then have an interactive scientific discussion with my students.” Talk about student engagement!
Byrne Creek Secondary, 7777 – 18th Street, Burnaby, BC
Over 15 Years of Technological Innovation – T.L. Kennedy Secondary School in Mississauga Ontario, is a learning community that encourages academic excellence in learning through communication, collaboration and cultural diversity. Teachers assist a population of aproximately 640 students in acquiring the skills and knowledge that will make them successful learners.
Over 15 years ago, the school started out using PASCO’s Science Workshop equipment (mainly motion sensors) along with Data Studio software. As the years passed and technology improved, they adopted the PASPORT interfaces and corresponding sensors.
Today, students enjoy access to a school-wide SPARKvue software site license. In addition, the school also has one copy of Capstone software for advanced physics applications. Rob Vucic – the Curricular Head of Math and Science – explains how the PASCO sensors are used at his school. “We have a mobile windows tablet lab that runs SPARKvue software. Those tablets connect via USB interfaces to a variety of sensors including: motion and acceleration sensors, force sensors for physics, and the temperature, pressure and pH sensors for chemistry.
Rob likes approaching the concepts that students are studying in either a ‘discover or confirm’ process. “I might use some guiding questions and have the students do the ‘walk the graph activity’ with a motion sensor – with questions like ‘How did you know when to stay still?’ or ‘How did you know which way or how quickly to move?’ Students will build their own knowledge of physics quantities that way.
I have a visual accelerometer that I use to discuss and show the direction of acceleration in circular motion. This is visually very effective. Meanwhile, our chemistry program involves students confirming gas laws or getting actual titration curves. Once again this approach brings a connection between what they learn while providing them with a practical hands-on opportunity.”
The students at T.L. Kennedy enjoy tremendous success with this experiential learning. According to Rob, he has witnessed some striking outcomes when his students use PASCO probeware. “I might use a force sensor and slide a textbook across a surface to discover what factors affect friction. Students operate the software and help me with the experiment. We come away with a collaboratively designed note.
I might also use sensors to confirm an idea like momentum conservation in a linear elastic collision. This time, I would use photogates and the Capstone software to collect the information and have the students do their own inquiry with calculations to see if momentum is indeed conserved and because it isn’t perfect, there must be an external force acting on the system.
This leads them to thinking about friction. The laws we talk about are now something tangible and measurable, confirmed by the students with real equipment. In this situation, students also ask ‘What if we change some aspect?’ What is nice, is that I can say, ‘Go ahead and try that and see what happens’.”
With some 300 buildings, 40,000 students, 250,000 living alumni, and a reputation for excellence that reaches around the globe, McGill has carved out a spot among the world’s greatest universities. “Here at McGill University we use PASCO Scientific instruments to conduct physics experiments over a broad range of topics from mechanics to modern physics across multiple academic years” says Saverio Biunno, Lab Superintendent of the Department of Physics at McGill.
“In the photos below, we are in the first year physics laboratory using the PASCO photoelectric effect setup to demonstrate the quantization of light and accurately determine Planck’s constant. Of the many items that we use, my students are most impressed with the Franck Hertz unit.”
“PASCO’s user friendly apparatus’ free up time for the student to fully explore the physics behind the experiment while making precise measurements.”