Magazine article Technology & Learning

Probeware: Thanks to Probe Technology, Today's Students Can Collect Data in Minutes-Leaving Them Much More Time for Learning

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Probeware: Thanks to Probe Technology, Today's Students Can Collect Data in Minutes-Leaving Them Much More Time for Learning

Article excerpt

In the old days, school science experiments often meant inaccurate readings, missing data, and a big margin of human error. Using thermometers, pencils, and graph paper, students spent a disproportionate amount of time on data collection, leaving little time for data analysis. But thanks to probeware, today's students can collect data in minutes-leaving them much more time for learning.

Q. What is probeware?

A. Probeware refers to technology that logs, records, and analyzes data. The term includes the sensors that do the measuring; the devices that record and in some cases analyze the data, commonly called data loggers; and the software that makes it all happen. Sound complicated? It shouldn't. While probeware enables students to accurately measure all kinds of things, from temperature to force or pressure, the process is actually quite simple. Students take their data loggers-small, handheld devices with a variety of functions, depending on the manufacturer--out into the field. The students either plug in an external probe or use one that's built in. They take a reading. Depending on the logger, the data they collect is either graphed directly onto the logger or saved to be graphed on a graphing calculator or PC.

Q. What are the benefits of using probeware in the classroom?

A. Probeware tends to be very accurate, whereas in the past, it wasn't unusual for science experiments to be tossed out due to human error. With probeware students can also collect many more data points; most data loggers can take up to 1,000 readings a second. …

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