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Post-Secondary Physics with PASCO


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.”

Advanced Physics with PASCO

PASCO Products

  • Capstone Software – UI-5400
  • 850 Universal Interface – UI-5000
  • Photoelectric Effect System – SE-6609
  • Franck-Hertz Apparatus – SE-9639
  • e/m Apparatus – SE-9629
  • Mechanical Wave Driver – SF-9324
  • Basic Optics System – OS-8515C
  • Spectrophotometer – OS-8539/OS-8537
  • Rotational Apparatus – ME-9341
  • Ratio of Specific Heat – EX-5531
  • Driven Damped Harmonic Oscillator – EX-5522A
  • Field Mapper Kit – PK-9023
  • Basic Electrostatics System – ES-9080B
  • Compression Igniter – TD-8577

Students Initiate Water Quality Investigation


Why Does The Water Taste So Bad? – The industrious middle school students at Ecole Dr. Bernard Brosseau decided to answer for themselves why the drinking fountain water tasted so foul. They were concerned that the water was not safe to drink.


Using the Advanced Water Quality sensor the students took uncontaminated samples from the drinking fountains and carefully measured several parameters including dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH and conductivity. The results from these samples were then compared with the Canadian guidelines.


The students were pleasantly surprised to discover that the test results were within the recommendations of the Canadian guidelines. Not yet satisfied they decided to contact the Bonnyville water treatment facility where they learned that the source of the foul was most likely due to the chlorine. The students are now trying to raise funds to install charcoal filters on all the drinking fountains. The investigation was recognized as a very special achievement. A document video describing the investigation was submitted to the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition where it was selected as a finalist and earning $20,000 in equipment for the school. Talk about making science real!

PASCO Products

  • AirLink PS-3200
  • Advanced Water Quality Sensor PS-2230
  • SparkVue Software PS-2401 -free for tablets/Chromebooks

Probeware & Cross-Curricular Critical Thinking


Marina Petrychkovch is the Head of Science at Gordon Graydon Memorial Secondary School and has been teaching for 13 years. “I am a big advocate for the proper and effective use of technology in the classroom, and a strong believer in inquiry and project based learning” says Marina. “Inquiry based learning is critical to students’ understanding of science, which is enhanced through the use of sensors. Datalogging promotes creativity and enables students to benefit from an authentic learning environment based on real data. Our school has a wide selection of PASCO sensors and a Capstone site license. PASCO has a huge variety of sensors – they are easy to use, come with a fantastic warranty and allow for quick and accurate collection of data.”


“For the last eight years of my teaching career I have focused on how I can use probeware to help me turn traditional ‘cookie cutter labs’ into open ended inquiry investigations that promote student engagement and critical thinking. Today, all of our senior science students design and carry out an open-ended experiment using probes. By the end of the course, students have completed number of labs, have had a chance to design at least two experiments, and have received lots of descriptive feedback to be able to successfully design their summative lab which is worth 10% of their final mark. Over the course, students acquire critical scientific investigation skills, which they can apply to their own experimental design and investigations by asking their own questions.

Students that are enrolled in biology and chemistry are encouraged to conduct a cross-curricular lab. They design an experiment to see how different colored light affects the production of O2 gas and the consumption of CO2 gas during photosynthesis of spinach leaves. Over the course of four days, students work in teams to design and conduct the experiment. The project culminates with the presentation of a report and an interview with both chemistry and biology teachers.”


“Students use the CO2/O2 probes to monitor both gases under different light sources. The spectrometer is used with DCPIP dye to determine the rate of photosynthesis. Students also investigate whether chloroplasts are necessary for reduction of DCPIP, and whether light is a key factor for reduction. Students quickly grasp the cross-curricular aspects of the experiment.

Procedure: DCPIP becomes colorless when reduced. It has a higher affinity for electrons than ferredoxin which mediates electron transfer in photosynthesis. Thus, instead of reducing NADP+ in the electron transport chain, DCPIP is reduced. This process results in DCPIP reducing in light absorbance when added to chlorophyll as it photosynthesizes which can be quantified using a spectrometer. Biology Application: Using spectrometer students test and determine the wavelength of light (red, blue, green light etc). Using CO2/O2 probes they monitor both gases under different light sources/colors and then calculate the rate. Chemistry Application: Students prepare the spinach chlorophyll extract, add DCPIP and use the spectrometer to monitor percentage of transmittance values over time by periodically exposing cuvette to light and measuring transmittance over time.” Cross Curricular Experiential Learning Gordon Graydon Memorial Secondary School, Mississauga, ON

PASCO Products

  • Capstone Software – UI-5400
  • Oxygen Sensor – PS-2126A
  • Carbon Dioxide Sensor – PS-2110
  • Spectrometer – PS-2600
  • Spectrometry Software – FREE

Students Teaching Parents – Tech Night at Bridgewater Elementary


As a progressive science teacher at Bridgewater Elementary School in Nova Scotia, Tony Eisnor has been providing his students with the opportunity to experience hands-on science. This year, the province has made a significant investment in PASCO sensor kits, equipping every single elementary school with multiple sensors and access to SPARKvue software. “My students volunteered to put on an evening presentation for parents, demonstrating the PASCO general science sensor and the weather sensor connected to iPads,” says Tony. “Every year we put on a demonstration showing how the students are using iPad technologies in the classroom for the next year’s grade 5 parents. This year we incorporated the PASCO sensors and they were a big hit.”


“A pair of students demonstrated the use of the general sensor using the temperature probe and did an experiment using alcohol, water and mineral oil to show the different evaporation rates of liquids. The resulting data was broadcast live to the parents in the audience using the schools’ Apple TV connected to a digital projector. Another student showed how the weather sensor with anemometer is used in the grade 5 curriculum, to gather data on wind speed and gusts as well as humidity. He demonstrated the data logging capabilities of the equipment as well.”


“When the presentation was complete, parents only had one question: ‘How many of the airlinks and sensors does the school currently have and are there plans to purchase more?’” A very successful introduction to the new technologies developed by PASCO and put into Nova Scotia classrooms!

PASCO Products

  • Sparkvue Software – FREE
  • Airlink – PS-3200
  • General Science Sensor – PS-2168
  • Weather Sensor – PS-2154A
  • Weather/Anemometer PS-2174

Moving Beyond Cookie Cutter Labs


Adrian Deakin is the Science Program Area Leader and a Chemistry Teacher at Shaftesbury High School in Winnipeg. Adrian has been using PASCO equipment with his science students since 2000. Over the years he has incorporated datalogging into his science lessons and has also hosted working sessions at the local STAM conference to help familiarize other teachers with PASCO probeware.


“I use PASCO colorimeters along with SPARK units when I am teaching my grade 11 chemistry students how to dilute solutions,” says Adrian. “We first make a kool-aid solution of known concentration and then we dilute the solution to a second known concentration and analyze it for transmittance. After converting transmittance values to absorbance we compare the absorbance readings to the proportionate change in concentration after dilution. Another grade 11 lab is the calculation of the average rates of evaporation of volatile Liquids, namely acetone, ethanol, and methanol. Students are able to monitor the temperature changes as part of the experiment. A higher level lab that I have done using colorimeters is the calculation of the percent copper in brass. Brass shell casings are dissolved in nitric acid making a solution of copper (II) ions which is tested for absorbance against a series of standard solutions. I also have students determine the concentration of ammonia in household ammonia solution via titration with hydrochloric acid. They use pH probes to monitor the pH of the solution every 1 mL upon the addition of HCl and generate a curve of pH versus volume of titrant.”


“In the first lab, the students observe that there is a linear relationship between concentration and absorbance for coloured solutions. They also learn that transmittance values change when examined with different colours (wavelengths). Although we don’t go into further calculations, the students learn that this relationship is called Beer’s Law. In our second lab, as long as students are careful, graphs turn our very well and they can calculate the slope of the line as the substance is evaporating. It is an excellent way to introduce students to types of intermolecular forces, phase changes, and the difference between endothermic and exothermic reactions. In the advanced lab, the concentration of copper ions is used to determine the mass of copper in the sample and the percent copper is calculated by comparing the experimentally determined mass to the mass of the shell casing. These values can then be compared to typical percent composition values of brass.” These are no old-school labs!

PASCO Products

  • Sparkvue Software PS-2400
  • Airlink PS-3200
  • Colorimeter PS-2121
  • pH Sensor PS-2400
  • Temperature Sensor PS-3201
  • Motion Sensor PS-2103A

A Middle School STEM Challenge


Located south of the Assiniboine on the western edge of the city of Winnipeg, River West Park Middle school is part of the Pembina Trails School Division and serves students in kindergarten through to grade 9. River West Park’s program aims to challenge children academically, guided by Manitoba’s provincial curriculum standards. Todd Johnson is a science teacher at River West Park Middle School, and is integrating a STEM component into his grade 8 science class through a water quality engineering design challenge.


“My students are conducting water quality project right now where they have been tasked to design a water filter. We will then compare which group’s filter does the best job at filtering out the water” explains Todd. “Before we started the project we had an in depth water quality discussion. I then took some time to show the students how the PASCO water quality sensor works. We tried a few different water samples as a class to view how the sensor reacted to different water samples. I then used the free water quality lab in SPARKvue (projected using a tablet and ScreenBeam) to discuss the specifics of how this particular water quality sensor works (i.e.: using electrical current etc..). Students proceeded on their STEM project, by planning and designing water filters from a given set of supplies. They could choose to use whatever they wanted. Supplies included cotton balls, coffee filters, paper cups, bowls, jay cloths, clothes-pins and paper, among other items. Water samples were obtained from a local pond, and made worse by adding salt and sand. We obtained a base reading for the water sample (~8350), and then each group tested their water filter to see whose filters did the best job of creating a cleaner water sample.”


“The results were interesting, since samples after filter use were only marginally better than the original reading.” Todd and his students used these results to brainstorm on the likely reason for such outcomes. “The students discovered that salt is not filtered in this process and that it must be the salt which accounts for most of the poor water quality reading.” “Some samples actually made the reading increase. Students were again challenged to determine the possible reasons for such an outcome. They realized that some groups had used sand in their filters, and that the sand may have added other contaminants to the water.” “I would like to expand the project with further explorations,” says Todd. “Students could investigate ways to remove salt from water and could try those methods to see how that changes the reading on the sensor.” A ‘hands-on’ STEM challenge! River West Park Middle School, 30 Stack Street Winnipeg, MB

PASCO Products

  • Sparkvue Software PS-2400
  • Water Quality Sensor PS-2230
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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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