Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

2006 Vernier/NSTA Technology Award Winners

The award, co-sponsored by Vernier and NSTA, is part of the NSTA Teacher Award Program. Each year, educators are recognized for their planned or current innovative use of data-collection technology.

Elementary

Deborah Wickerham

The Power of the A.P.P.L.E. Bus

  • Deborah Wickerham
  • 5th Grade Teacher/Science Curriculum and Assessment Committee Chairperson
  • Chamberlin Hill Intermediate
  • Findlay, OH

Synopsis

Working in partnership with community organizations, area school districts, and local scientists, Deborah has created the A.P.P.L.E. bus, a mobile science technology laboratory used to provide inquiry-based field studies for her community. A.P.P.L.E. stands for an Awesome, Practical, Powerful, Learning Experience, and students participating in the program have just that. Starting in 3rd grade, students use the A.P.P.L.E bus to investigate various ecosystems found at Van Buren State Park using data-collection technology, including the Vernier LabPro and sensors. The A.P.P.L.E. bus curricula available to educators include “pre-bus” activities; on-site field tests; specimen collection and observation; and follow-up data analysis. Deborah further enhances the experience by encouraging her students to present their findings to classmates. By providing instruction that emphasizes experimentation, documentation, observation, analysis, and application, the A.P.P.L.E. bus program helps teachers meet standards while allowing students to become real scientists.

Middle School

Jamie Mabry

Soil on the Horizon in Stanly County

  • Jamie Mabry
  • 6th Grade Science Teacher/Department Chairman
  • New London Choice Middle School
  • New London, NC

Synopsis

Jamie learned early in his career that teaching with technology, including computers, Vernier probeware, and graphing calculators, can positively impact student attitudes and achievement, especially from at-risk students. Jamie takes this a step further by providing activities using technology that build awareness of issues affecting Stanly County, the predominately farming community in which he resides. Jamie uses an activity called Soil on the Horizon as a means to build understanding of the responsibility the residents of Stanly County have in caring for the soil for future generations. In the activity, students bring in soil samples from all over the county and use the Vernier pH sensor to measure soil pH as an indicator of soil fertility. Once they have completed their analysis, Jamie’s students present their findings to a Stanly County Soil and Water Conservation Board committee, enabling his 6th grade students to take an active role in the community.

High School

Heidi Anderson

Heart Rate Measures in Crayfish: Environmental Changes, Social Interactions and Physiological Response

  • Heidi Anderson
  • AP Biology Teacher
  • Paul Laurence Dunbar High School
  • Lexington, KY

Synopsis

By incorporating Vernier data-collection technology into her classroom, Heidi encourages students to ask relevant questions, design appropriate tests, and use appropriate tools to enhance their study of biology. In collaboration with researchers from the University of Kentucky, Heidi has developed an inquiry-based activity designed to spark student motivation to learn. In the activity, students use the Vernier EKG Sensor connected to wires inserted under the dorsal carapace of a crayfish to monitor its heart rate. Students develop experiments to investigate variations in heart rate due to environmental changes such as depth of water, temperature, exposure to air, exercise, and social response. By allowing students to design and conduct experiments, Heidi believes her students will have a better understanding of experimental design and improve their ability to evaluate, question and develop research protocol, all while learning to assess their own progress.

David Jones

Air Toxics Under the Big Sky

  • David Jones
  • Chemistry Teacher
  • Big Sky High School
  • Missoula, MT

Synopsis

Over the years, David has developed inquiry labs that utilize computers and Vernier data-collection technology giving his students the opportunity to discover concepts and their applications in a meaningful way. David’s commitment to teaching relevant science led to “Air Toxics Under the Big Sky,” a research project he developed with colleagues from the University of Montana. David and his students are looking for a link between incidence of asthma and the levels of different groups of air pollutants, particularly during times of severe temperature inversion. Students collect global positioning data and air samples from outside and inside their homes and analyze the samples using a Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer. The students collaborate with scientists from the university’s Department of Chemistry, the Center for Environmental Health Sciences, and the Missoula City and County Health departments to interpret their data and relate their findings to real-world applications. This gives his students a better understanding of the scientific process and the role of science in society.

Stephen Potashnik

Rocketry

  • Stephen Potashnik
  • Physics and Math Faculty
  • Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School
  • Tappahannock, VA

Synopsis

Stephen believes that using technology develops student’s critical thinking skills, allowing them to move beyond textbook problems to confront real-world situations. His Rocketry lab is just one example of how he connects science and math to real-world situations. In this lab, students work in small groups using model rockets they construct from kits. Prior to launching the rockets, the students mount the rocket engines [horizontally] on a Vernier Dynamics System cart and measure the engine thrust using a Force Sensor. The thrust data are analyzed using numerical integration techniques to predict the maximum height their rockets will attain; these results are compared to an actual launch. The students investigate discrepancies between predicted and actual results using rocket simulation software modeling air drag. Stephen’s students use this experience to build student interest in state and national competitions, such as the Team America Rocket Challenge.

College

Marina Milner-Bolton

Interactive Learning Experiments – Improving Student Experiences in Introductory Science Courses

  • Marina Milner-Bolton
  • Instructor/Research Associate
  • Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • University of British Columbia
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada

Synopsis

Building interest in science, developing critical thinking and problem solving skills, and supporting independent and responsible thinkers are goals of every introductory science course and can be especially challenging in classes with large enrollments. To meet these goals, Marina is utilizing Vernier Logger Pro software and a digital video camera in her introductory physics classes to carefully record data during lecture demonstrations. Following the lecture, students access the data from the web for further analysis, allowing them time to work with the data to develop a deeper understanding and uncover misconceptions. During the subsequent lecture, students submit the results of their analysis, using a classroom response system, and feedback is provided. Marina’s approach capitalizes on the appeal of the traditional “show-and-tell” demonstrations, turning them into Interactive Learning Experiments that can positively impact student success. Marina will be studying the success of this program through continued research on student achievement and hopes the program will grow to other departments at UBC and beyond.

Vernier Technology Award

Seven awards are available: one elementary, two middle school, three high school, and one college level. The awards, each valued at $5,500, include $1,000 in cash, $3,000 in Vernier technology, and up to $1,500 in expenses for attending the NSTA convention.

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Past Winners

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