How Do I Engage My Students?
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
- Wireless Voltage Sensor PS-3211
- Wireless Current Sensor PS-3212
- Voltage-Current Sensor PS-2115
- AirLink Interface PS-3200