Tips From One Science Teacher to Another
Probeware is a great tool to use in the science classroom. Here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of it. Even the best equipment does nothing if it’s sitting in the back of a drawer.
Batteries & Charging
All wireless probeware needs power. Most probes contain internal lithium-ion batteries and charge via a micro-USB cable.
Some Pasco wireless probes (Temperature, pH, Light, and Conductivity)use disposable batteries, size 2032. Pasco suggests the battery life should be over a year, but I make sure to budget for replacements every year. Luckily you can buy 25 packs of CR2032 batteries for around $10 on Amazon.com.
The day before a lab, make sure you charge the probeware you’ll need for the next day. Most probes take about 2 hours to fully charge.
Pasco and Vernier sell their own special charging stations (Pasco 10 port for $60, Vernier 16 port for $69), but you can save a few bucks on Amazon.com. I use and like the Anker 60W 10 port USB Charger which sells for about $40. It really helps avoid the charging area looking like the cable monster is winning.
Preview labs before students attempt them. Will they need to change capture settings in order to collect the data they need? Clamps to hold sensors?
Having the correct sample rate is important when capturing data from probes. Too low a rate and you might miss transient events, too high a rate and the probe may stutter or run out of storage before the end of the experiment.
Example 1: While learning about magnetism and electricity we make shake generators (A coil of fine copper wire is wound around a tubular form. Students shake magnets back-and-forth through the wire coil, generating power.) We attached the Pasco Wireless Voltage Sensor to the coil and shook it to determine the maximum voltage generated. 100Hz provided the best results. Slower speeds missed the transient voltage spike, and higher speeds failed as well.