Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Science Skills 'Take' Better with Data Collection & Analysis Package

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Science Skills 'Take' Better with Data Collection & Analysis Package

Article excerpt

Physics students at Sycamore High School in the Cincinnati, Ohio, metropolitan area are exploring motion with PC-based laboratory tools. Each cooperative leaning group of three to four students works at a PC lab station that includes a Personal Science Laboratory (PSL) interface card, measuring probes from Team Labs in Boulder, Colo., and their Personal Science Laboratory Explorer software.

At the start of the school year, students explore kinematics with motion sensor probes. As the year progresses, students use temperature probes, light probes and digital multimeters for sophisticated laboratory experiments.

Using the motion probe, students initially measure their own body motion and the motion of a small toy car. They prepare and analyze graphs of position vs. time, velocity vs. time, and acceleration vs. time. All three graphs are compared to each other, giving students a firm understanding of the concepts of position, velocity and acceleration and their interrelationships. Using PSL, students can immediately analyze graphs of their actual lab data, versus taking it home as homework. The classroom period is devoted to originally analyzing and interpreting the meaning of graphical representations.

Selecting an Interface

Bernie Clemens-Walatka, physics teacher and science department supervisor, explains why the school chose Team Labs: "We wanted a system that would meet the needs of any student. The system should enable a full range of students to collect highly accurate data. Their data could then be the basis for developing science concepts and could serve as the connection between science and mathematics."

The school wanted a system that would be sturdy enough for all high school grade levels, and software that would be usable at an independent level with minimal instruction.

Impact of Real-Time Data

Sycamore physics students are now "in charge" of their own learning. At the start of an academic year, laboratory work includes specific directions with discovery-type questions. Students immediately assume responsibility for selecting axis ranges and portions of graphs to analyze, and performing appropriate mathematical analysis. As the year progresses, students assume ownership of the process and acquire a mature understanding of graphs. …

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