Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Investigating Climate Change and Maple with Vernier

Using the PAR Sensor to monitor the amount of photosynthetically active radiation for photosynthesis outside

Ever since I was a graduate teaching assistant at Northeastern University, Vernier data-collection technology has been an integral part of my science instruction. I remember being so impressed with the technology from the start—it was so much more cost effective and easier to use than the other lab equipment I had used previously.

From being an assistant professor and laboratory supervisor at Husson University to my current role as an assistant professor at Southern Vermont College (SVC), I have continued to use Vernier technology to engage my students in hands-on learning. At SVC, I use Vernier sensors in multiple biology classes, including in one lab where students are challenged to collect soil and wood samples to isolate and grow native fungi.

I’ve also integrated Vernier sensors into a long-term ecological study, which won a 2018 Vernier/NSTA Technology Award. The goal of the ecological project is to track how climate change will affect SVC’s abundant maple tree population and the amount of syrup these trees produce.

“The use of the technology will provide students with real-time data and a clear visual of what they are learning.”

During the project, students will measure soil moisture and temperature, soil pH, air humidity and temperature, air CO2 and O2 levels, photosynthetically-active radiation (PAR) availability, and more using a collection of Vernier sensors. The use of the technology will provide students with real-time data and a clear visual of what they are learning. Students will be able to use the data to investigate what factors affect the health and growth of maple trees and alter the length of the maple syrup season.

The project gives students valuable hands-on experience in field research, experimental design, data collection, and data analysis, while allowing them to contribute to a currently relevant field of study. Eventually the data gathered during the project will be used to design and teach the science of maple syrup to our students and the greater Bennington, Vermont community.

“The project gives students valuable hands-on experience in field research, experimental design, data collection, and data analysis while allowing them to contribute to a currently relevant field of study.”

The maple tree project is also a very collaborative effort that will reach many science students, including biology II, ecology, and independent study students. Physics, humanities, and even business professors will also be able to cultivate lessons to engage students in this engaging, hands-on project.

  • Marielle Postava-Davignon
  • Southern Vermont College
  • Bennington, VT

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