If you teach biochemistry, you will find numerous Vernier experiments and products that can fit into your curriculum. Common experiments performed in introductory biochemistry labs include acid/base chemistry and buffer preparation, protein and enzyme purification, enzyme activity assays, analysis of carbohydrates and lipids, and gel electrophoresis. Experiments that cover many topics, such as the examples in the following table, are found in the following lab books: Advanced Biology with Vernier, Advanced Chemistry with Vernier, and Organic Chemistry with Vernier.
Last week, we celebrated National Manufacturing Day with these awesome students from Aloha High School. Students were welcomed by co-founders David and Christine Vernier. They were also treated to tours and demonstrations by CEO, John Wheeler; Chemistry Staff Scientist, Elaine Nam; and Director of Operations, Brian Gilstrap.
Motion Commotion Experiment Uses Video Physics App
This year’s National Youth Science Day experiment was submitted by Oregon 4-H in collaboration with Oregon State University and Vernier. The experiment, “Motion Commotion,” relates speed, stopping distance, and reaction time. Participants have the option of using the Video Physics app for iOS to analyze the motion of a toy car moving down a ramp and coming to a stop on a level surface.
Since 2008, the National 4-H has held a National Youth Science Day, in which 4-H members across the country do an experiment and learn science outside of their school classrooms.
David and Christine Vernier to Remain Active as Co-Presidents
As a founder and CEO of Vernier Software & Technology since its inception 34 years ago, David Vernier has nurtured a company that started as an engaging summertime endeavor. Over the years, Vernier has grown into a leading science education company focused on supporting teachers and helping students better understand scientific concepts. It is with this same excitement and consideration that he has decided to name John Wheeler, long-time employee and co-owner, as the company’s new chief executive officer (CEO). Wheeler, who has been instrumental in the company’s product development and growth, will work closely with David to provide Vernier customers with the industry-leading service and products they deserve and expect.
“John has been a valuable part of the Vernier leadership team for more than 17 years, and we are confident that with him as CEO, Vernier will continue to thrive for a long, long time,” said David Vernier, co-founder of Vernier and former physics teacher. “That’s not to say I won’t stay very active in the company. Christine and I will continue to work with the company as co-presidents. In my new role, I will continue to talk to teachers every day, and I will work closely with John to develop innovative products for science and STEM education.”
Wheeler has been working at Vernier since 1993 and has been a partner and co-owner of the company since 1998. Prior to being named CEO, Wheeler was the chief technology officer and head of engineering, in which role he was responsible for the conceptualization and development of Vernier’s award-winning LabPro®, LabQuest® and LabQuest® 2 data-collection interfaces and the Go Wireless® family of sensors. His extensive experience, expertise and knowledge of the company and its product offerings will be instrumental as Vernier looks ahead to deliver the next generation of affordable data-collection technologies for science and STEM classrooms.
“I am honored to be leading the company into the future where we can continue to serve teachers by delivering the same high-quality science technology and outstanding support that Vernier has provided for the past 34 years,” said Wheeler. “I will continue working side by side with David and Christine to stay true to the values and culture that they have engrained in this company that bears their name.”
Students doing video analysis of everyday motion can be a great way to bring physics into the real world. Due to the quality of some videos, they are sometimes difficult to analyze. Here are some tips for recording good videos for analysis:
Support the phone or camera to keep it still. Use a tripod, tape the phone to a box, or find another way to avoid the shakiness of hand-held video. This will also prevent the tendency to follow the motion with the camera.
Record the event in a well-lit area. Outdoors in daylight is the ideal environment, as even an overcast sky can provide more light than can be found indoors. However, going outside is not always practical. Old overhead projectors can provide a bright light that has no flicker, even when filming in high speed. The brighter the lighting, the less motion blur you will see in the video.
Position the camera so the line of sight is normal to the plane of motion. Ideally, all the motion would take place at a constant distance from the camera, but that is nearly impossible to achieve. Therefore, arrange the scene to have as little distance variation as possible. This is to make sure the scale you choose applies to as much of the motion as possible.
Place a ruler, meter stick, or other scale item in the same plane as the motion being recorded. Having the scale object at that same distance eliminates parallax error in scaling.
Frank Pileiro, technology director at Linwood Public Schools in Pennsylvania, wrote a review of Go Wireless Heart Rate for Tech & Learning.
“The Go Wireless Heart Rate Monitor is a nice device that can be used in a variety of educational settings, from science class to physical education and sports training.”
Pileiro tested Go Wireless Heart Rate for quality and effectiveness, ease of use, and suitability for use in a school environment.
“The accompanying app is very easy to use and allows data points to be studied and compared. … Plus, the ability to export the information in a variety of ways gives students and teachers flexibility and collaboration capabilities.”
Calibrate ISEs very carefully and often. Two calibration standards ship with each ISE. It is important to soak the electrode in the High Standard solution for at least 30 minutes prior to calibration. If, at any time, the reported reading is a constant 1.0 mg/L (and the electrode is not in a 1.0 mg/L solution), you need to recalibrate.
Be certain that your standards are uncontaminated. Because the High Standard is 100 times more concentrated than the Low Standard, it is very easy to cross-contaminate the solutions. To keep your standards from being contaminated, thoroughly rinse and blot dry the sensor tip prior to placing it in a standard. You can purchase fresh standards from Vernier or make your own using the instructions found in the sensor booklet.
If you know the approximate concentrations of your samples, you will save time if you analyze them from lowest concentration to highest. If there is great variation in concentration from one sample to the next, it can take several minutes for the reading to stabilize.
Choose a specific time at which to calibrate and take your reading for each sample. For example, if you calibrate when the ISE has been in a solution for 60 seconds, you should also collect data for your samples after the sensor has been in the sample for 60 seconds.
The ISE actually measures voltages and then converts the voltage values to concentration values. This conversion is logarithmic, so keep in mind that a small voltage change can cause a large variation in the concentration reading.
Replace the membranes of the Nitrate, Calcium, Potassium, and Ammonium ISEs as needed. Each of these ISEs has a PVC membrane with a limited life expectancy; depending upon the amount of use and how well they were taken care of, the membranes should give good readings for 1–2 years. If you notice distinctly different voltages or slowed response during calibration, it is probably time to replace the membrane module. The replacement modules have a limited shelf-life, so they should be purchased immediately prior to use.
Preparing enzyme extracts for your laboratory activity or demonstration can be messy and time-consuming, and it often leads to results that vary. With this in mind, the Biology Departments at Vernier and Flinn Scientific partnered to develop two simple solutions for teachers who want better results when performing experiments with enzymes.
Many teachers use our O2 Gas Sensor or Gas Pressure Sensor to study the enzyme catalase. The enzyme is often purified from fresh liver, although a yeast suspension can be used. We have found the biggest obstacle to getting reliable results is the source of the enzyme. You will get much better results if you use purified catalase, which can be purchased directly from Flinn Scientific (Catalog Number C0359). This contains more than enough for multiple classes and can easily be used in both inquiry and non-inquiry activities. In addition, if your students want to investigate the effect of substrate concentration on this enzyme, they will need something stronger than the 3% hydrogen peroxide commonly found in the grocery store. Flinn Scientific also sells 6% hydrogen peroxide (Catalog Number H0028). For instructions on how to use catalase and other tricks for getting good results with enzyme activities, see Tips and Tricks for Success with Inquiry-Based Enzyme Activities.
Another great inquiry-based enzyme activity from Flinn Scientific is the Peroxidase Enzyme Activity—Advanced Inquiry Laboratory Kit (Catalog Number FB2039). The enzyme for this activity is easily isolated from turnips and is very stable at room temperature. This kit uses a colorimetric assay, so you can use our Colorimeter or SpectroVis Plus to quickly determine reaction rates. Students can investigate the effect of pH on an enzyme because the kit includes various pH buffer capsules. For instructions on how to use this Flinn Scientific kit with the Colorimeter or SpectroVis Plus, see Use a SpectroVis Plus or Colorimeter to Monitor Turnip Peroxidase.
Years ago, in simpler times, if you wanted to buy a pH sensor from Vernier, there was one choice—the Vernier pH Sensor. These days, you have five options (including, still, the Vernier pH Sensor). All of our pH sensors have similar accuracy, response, and sensitivity, so which one should you buy? It depends on how and where you plan to use your pH sensor. Here is some information to help you choose wisely.