Magazine article Technology and Children

Handheld Computing Devices

Magazine article Technology and Children

Handheld Computing Devices

Article excerpt

introduction

With the impending gas crisis and the increased effects of global warming, going "green" is currently the rave in America. Greening our lives entails becoming more environmentally conscious, not to mention performing such tasks as recycling and using alternative sources of energy. As the environment changes around us, so too will our traditional ways of teaching and learning. Pencil and paper are slowly walking the road to extinction. As teachers struggle to stay abreast of the latest technologies for the classroom and try to stay "green," it is appropriate for them to take a look at some valuable technology resources that they can use to help students understand their environment. This column will feature a valuable resource to assist teachers in their bid to satisfy the need to implement modern instructional technology and their students' need to access "green" technology.

Several decades ago a product called Science Toolkit was introduced to connect probe kits to Apple lie computers. This technology permitted teachers to add motion sensors, timers, and thermometers to computers for the purpose of collecting data. Thus began the dawn of the computer-based laboratory equipment era. Today handheld computing devices are a new revolution in many classrooms, and technologically savvy educators can attest to the benefits of these data-collection systems. Handheld devices, like their predecessors (the Science Toolkit), also offer probes for data collection as well as a variety of other technological features. In order to address higher-order thinking, handheld computing devices offer students and teachers alike an opportunity to investigate the environment through the use of hands-on activities. As an example of some of the benefits of this technology, a classroom teacher may wish to use the handheld computing device during an environmental science experiment. One possible application could involve performing a hands-on experiment at a local creek and/or river; handheld devices would sufficiently provide all the hardware and software necessary. The unique device would allow students to collect data pertaining to the temperature of the creek water, flow rate of the creek, the soil moisture of the riverbank, and other relevant environmental data.

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There are a number of companies that feature handheld computing devices, including probes, PDAs, and graphic organizers. One such company is Vernier Software & Technology. This company has developed a comprehensive collection of more than 50 sensors for use with computers, handhelds, and calculators. Many of these computer-based lab systems feature a variety of computer and calculator platforms in addition to support materials that are easy for students to use. The handheld computer devices offer a variety of software features including a meter tablet, graph tablet, table tablet, note tablet, stopwatch, periodic table, keyboard, and calculator. Moreover, these handhelds are equipped to accept probes including digital thermometers, motion sensors, microphones, soil-moisture sensors, and water-quality sensors. The advantage of using these probes is that they allow students to accurately record environmental data for critical analysis. …

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