Friday, 6 March 2015

Vernier Technology Takes Science Learning to a Whole New Level

Science teacher Julie Way explains how the implementation of the Vernier LabQuest 2 technology is providing Greenwood science students with unique opportunities to extend and enrich their learning.

Using probeware to measure temperatures inside three different
toy cars to compare the heat released from different road surfaces.
New to the Science Department this year, this interface is a stand-alone tablet that connects to various probes and sensors used to collect and analyze data. A wireless connection allows students to share their data so that it can be further analyzed on their own personal computers. The use of probeware enables students to deepen their understanding of abstract concepts and allows them to design and carry out experiments in ways not previously possible.

The LabQuest 2 has already been used at various grade levels for a wide range of experiments.

Grade 9 Physical and Chemical Properties: Temperature Probes

Earlier this year, while investigating physical and chemical properties, Grade 9 students used temperature probes to explore what happens when water boils and freezes. The heating and cooling curves visible on the display helped students understand that temperature remains constant during a phase change.

Our initial exploration of boiling and freezing points led to an extension activity for several students who in turn designed an experiment to explore the effect of salt concentration on the boiling point of water. Having sensitive temperature probes and the ability to save and export data allowed the students to fully experience the scientific method at work. The students compared initial trials and continued to modify the experimental design until a suitable plan was established. Even more valuable than coming up with a final conclusion was the process of reviewing the results and critically analyzing their experimental design.

Grade 10 Climate Change Project: Temperature Probe

As part of the climate change project in Grade 10 Science, one student chose to use the temperature probes and the LabQuest 2 to compare the amount of heat released from three different road surfaces.

Comparing the heat absorbed by different road surfaces
(asphalt vs. cement)
Her experiment was left running for the entire winter holiday, set to record the temperature every minute over this period of time; thus, she was able to collect a huge amount of data. A significant variation in the temperatures from the different surfaces was noted. This type of experiment would not be possible without this new technology.

Grade 12 Physics: Magnetic Field Sensors

The Grade 12 Physics class recently studied gravitational, electric and magnetic fields. Using the Magnetic Field Sensors, the LabQuest 2 and a Slinky, students were able to investigate how the magnetic field varies inside and outside a coil of wire when an electric current passes through it. This investigation also led to an interesting discussion of how the Earth's magnetic field might affect the data being collected.

Electromagnetism and magnetic field strength are abstract concepts that can be difficult to grasp, but the ability to accurately measure this invisible field and display it on a graph significantly helps students deepen their understanding.

As the Greenwood Science Department continues to explore the diverse range of Vernier applications, it becomes clear that the benefits to student learning and engagement are vast.

For more information on the LabQuest 2 and the Vernier Connected Science System, click here.

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