Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

2008 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

Allison Needham

Music Maker

  • Allison Needham
  • 5th Grade Teacher
  • J. B. Watkins Elementary School
  • Midlothian, VA

Synopsis

As chairperson of the Children’s Engineering and Design Technology program at Watkins Elementary School, Allison frequently pioneers new programs and technology solutions that will give all students a chance to excel in the elementary setting. Allison was introduced to Vernier data-collection products at the 2007 NSTA National conference in St. Louis. She saw the use of Vernier probes as great way to expand the educational technology use within the program. Her first attempt at integrating data-collection technology was with the culminating activity in her sound unit—Music Maker. In this activity, students apply what they have learned in their design of a musical instrument that can play three distinct notes. In past years, some of her students struggled with the basic concepts while others quickly finish and became bored. Adding a Vernier Microphone to capture a graphical representation of the notes played greatly enhanced student understanding and provided opportunity for additional exploration. Allison’s success with this activity has her looking for additional ways she can incorporate data-collection technology into the program.

Middle School

Mary Cook

Demonstrating Newton’s Laws

  • Mary Cook
  • 8th Grade Science Teacher
  • Roosevelt Middle School
  • Glendale, CA

Synopsis

Mary is always looking for new opportunities to improve the learning environment at Roosevelt Middle School. Mary was instrumental in her school becoming a NASA Explorer School and is an advisor for the school’s MESA (Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement) program. Her experiences have made one thing clear—the use of technology can help motivate and stimulate interest among students from a diverse population. In her teaching, Mary already incorporates science projects and hands-on experiments. Adding data-collection technology is just another way to improve her students’ understanding of the projects. In her application, Mary described how she would add Vernier Motion Detectors into her Demonstrating Newton’s Laws activity. In this activity, students research, design and create a small cart that can be used to demonstrate Newton’s 1st, 2nd, and 3rd laws of motion. The activity requires the students to conduct their own scientific investigation and demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of forces and motion. Having a real-time plot of position, velocity, and acceleration makes the investigation that much more engaging.

Sherlynn Davis

Investigating CO2 and Temperature during Rush Hour

  • Sherlynn Davis
  • Science Teacher
  • Crossroads Second Chance-North
  • Roswell, GA

Synopsis

Sherlynn works with many at-risk youth who, for many reasons, do not see the relevance of science, technology and mathematics to their everyday life. As a result, her teaching practices have evolved from teacher driven, paper and pencil activities into student centered, hands-on, technology-related activities, filled with practical applications. Sherlynn’s students are eager to go to class because they know they will be able to participate in groups and learn by experience. Her latest activity is to investigate green house gas emissions during Atlanta’s rush hour traffic (the 4th worst in the U.S.). In particular, she wants her students to investigate the relationship between the amount of CO2 emitted and the corresponding temperatures. Her students will research, design, and create a CO2 accumulation box they can use to collect air samples. While collecting data, the students will make written observations of the traffic levels. The students will compare their data to acceptable rates of CO2 output in metro areas with populations commensurate to Atlanta for a clearer picture of the degree of harmful emission.

High School

Steve Ahn

Microclimate Investigation

  • Steve Ahn
  • Science Teacher
  • Watauga High School
  • Boone, NC

Synopsis

Steve’s classes had been a repeat of his own experience in science—the memorization of disconnected facts. Realizing he was leading students down the wrong path, Steve began developing experiences in which curiosity and active involvement would lead to the acquisition of knowledge. Incorporating activities where students act as real scientists has made it so Steve has to do a lot less explaining of the concepts. In addition, the use of data-collection technology has motivated both he and his students to do even more labs. Steve’s current project is a study of the microclimates found on the Watauga High School property. His students will investigate temperature, light intensity, soil moisture, and relative humidity as a function of altitude and distance from the creek that runs through the campus. Teams of students will use handheld GPS receivers to guide them to pre-arranged locations where they will take photos and collect data. The end product of the activity is a digital field guide the students can use to further explore nature on their own.

Rebecca Runnels Morrison

Amusement Park Physics Instructional Videos

  • Rebecca Runnels Morrison
  • Science Teacher/Administrator
  • Runnels High School
  • Baton Rouge, LA

Synopsis

Rebecca has a passion and love for integrating technology into classroom instruction. Mathematics and science come to life for her students when they collect real-time data from real-world experiences. Rebecca understands that data collection involving familiar events shows the relevance of the course material. Rebecca knows that integrating technology into her classroom effectively increases student achievement, participation, and desire to learn. For the past several years, Rebecca has taken her students on a field trip to central Florida in order to investigate the physics of amusement park rides. Her students use data-collection technology, such as graphing calculators and accelerometers, to investigate the rides. This year, students in her physics lab and multimedia engineering classes will team up to produce videos of their investigations. Her physics students will document their planning and implementation of the data collection, as well as any discussion and analysis of the data. Rebecca’s multimedia engineering students will then edit the video to create instructional videos that can be used by classes that may not be able to visit an amusement park.

Danielle Spaete

A New Voice for an Electronic Keyboard

  • Danielle Spaete
  • Physics Teacher
  • Pleasant Valley High School
  • Bettendorf, IA

Synopsis

Danielle is a creative teacher—one who is constantly trying out new ways to reach her students, quite often with innovative uses of technology. Using lab activities to teach physics is the hallmark of Danielle’s physics program, as it allows her students to construct their own understanding of physics concepts. Danielle uses the wonders of technology to enhance the educational opportunities for her students by allowing them to investigate more complex phenomena where there is no book to check their answers. An example of this is found in her culminating activity for the unit on sound. The activity starts with “Band Day” where her students investigate the sounds created by different band instruments. Students then select an instrument to study further. They collect data for several notes and analyze the frequency and intensity of the notes and overtones unique to that instrument. Her students then “teach” an electronic keyboard to play each note and overtone with the right intensity to match their instrument. If successful, the keyboard will sound like their instrument.

College

Irina Lyublinskaya

Teaching Elementary Math and Science Standards with Technology

  • Irina Lyublinskaya
  • Associate Professor
  • College of Staten Island
  • Staten Island, NY

Synopsis

As former co-director of the Discovery Institute at the College of Staten Island, Irina has worked hard to encourage teachers of all levels to incorporate science and technology into their curricula. Irina’s current experience teaching pre-service elementary teachers has shown that many of her students are math and science phobic and do not feel comfortable with instructional technology. With this in mind, Irina developed a research project designed to impact pre-service elementary teacher’s perspectives and attitudes towards using calculator-based data-collection technology. As part of the project, Irina developed inquiry based data-collection activities that address core NSES and NCTM standards. The unique feature of the activities was the natural connection they made between science topics and mathematics concepts. The activities have students explore various properties of addition of positive and negative decimals by measuring the voltage across different arrangements of 1.5 volt batteries. Irina’s students were required to work through the activities so they could gain an appreciation of how calculators and data-collection technology can be used as tools to enhance student understanding of math and science concepts.

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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