At Australia’s Eltham High School, physics teacher Gary Bass doesn’t mind when his students interrupt him in the middle of a lesson. In fact, he insists on it. Especially when students are using their complement of Vernier products, including the LabPro interface, Logger Pro software, and the ProScope digital USB microscopes. Whether the Vernier products are helping to demonstrate velocity, momentum, or energy transformations, Bass believes the tools help his students take charge of their own learning.
Bass has been teaching physics, science, and computer technology at Eltham High for twelve years, and is the coordinator of Eltham High’s science program. Highly regarded as a liberal and creative arts school – with most students aiming for careers in filmmaking, music, fine arts, or drama – Eltham also provides students with an extremely strong grounding in the sciences. Due to its overall level of academic excellence, Eltham High was just selected as Australia’s “School of the Year” by the country’s national newspaper, The Australian, for the second year running.
“… They [students] can use the Vernier tools to go off and create their own investigations. In this way they’re taking an active role in the learning process.”
A user of Vernier products since the advent of the Apple II, Bass believes that the tools ideally support what he calls the “process approach,” wherein students learn when they’re most receptive to the process.
“The versatility of Vernier’s data-collection products enables students to ask their own questions, and find their own answers,” Bass notes. “They’re not always interested in what I might have scheduled on a particular day. But by using the probes, and the Logger Pro software, I can basically say ‘What do you want to do today?’ Then instead of suffering through some boring lecture, they can use the Vernier tools to go off and create their own investigations. In this way they’re taking an active role in the learning process.”
Not only do Bass’s students acquire new knowledge with Vernier technologies, they can demonstrate their mastery of that knowledge. Since the products integrate seamlessly with Eltham’s collection of Apple computers, students can easily create multimedia projects that support both academic assessment and learning outside of the classroom.
“Instead of taking a test, which simply shows what students know at one point in time, they’re now required to perform or display what they’ve learned.”
“We’ve switched to a ‘performance’ culture at Eltham,” explains Bass. “Instead of taking a test, which simply shows what students know at one point in time, they’re now required to perform or display what they’ve learned. Combining the ProScope and Science CSI Kit with Apple’s iMovie software and iSight cameras offers the easiest way for students to tell their own story.
“The 1-10X lens allows the ProScope to be used as a video camera to record an experiment on the bench, then the footage is stored directly on the Mac,” Bass continues. “With the iSight web cameras, students can then tape themselves providing commentary on the experiment, and add the audio track to the footage with iMovie. This provides a very complete description of the experiment, and demonstrates their proficiency with the lesson. And, if they burn their videos to DVD, students can pop the discs into a DVD player at home and review the lesson whenever desired.”
Bass reports that his own son became an enthusiastic user of Vernier products when he was ten years old. Now a freshman at Metro State College in Denver, Daniel Bass (a budding scientist and accomplished athlete who competed in the 2004 Australia Youth Olympics Festival) has found his own unique application for Logger Pro: he uses the software to analyze his basketball free throws and three-point shooting technique.
“Ultimately,” says his dad, “Vernier has made it possible to get real-time results, with an incredible degree of accuracy. And now with Logger Pro‘s video capture and synchronization capabilities, anything is possible. The only limits are your imagination.”