Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

2011 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.


Lynn Fagerholm

Newton on a Roll

  • Lynn Fagerholm
  • Kenston Intermediate School
  • Timmons Elementary
  • Chagrin Falls, OH


As an elementary science lab teacher, Lynn Fagerholm works with students to build functional competency with scientific measuring tools through experimentation focusing on the relevance of precise measurement and data interpretation. Using the activity “Newton on a Roll,” Fagerholm teaches her 3rd-5th grade students these scientific skills and principles by exploring the gravitational force on model cars traveling down a slope, first using an empty car to traverse the fixed slope followed by subsequent trials where students add different mass to the car to measure the effects. As part of the second phase of the activity, Fagerholm has students maintain a constant mass for the car while they increase slope during multiple runs.

In past trials of this activity, Fagerholm found that the use of manual stopwatches often returned inaccurate timing results for her students. The acquisition of Vernier data-collection technology will allow for students to record more accurate timing measures and thus translate into a more effective study of the effects of gravity.

Middle School

Nicole Ackerson

Get Heart Smart

  • Nicole Ackerson
  • 8th Grade Science Instructor
  • Berkeley Preparatory School
  • Tampa, FL


Using Vernier data-collection technology, Dr. Nicole Ackerson plans to teach her 8th grade students about the benefits of aerobic activity through her “Get Heart Smart!” multidisciplinary project. The goal of the project is to show students the connections between life and physical science, raise awareness about cardiovascular health and fitness, and provide real-world application of trigonometric calculations.

In the activity, students will use Vernier sensors to measure heart rate and heart rhythm by recording the resting and exercise activity of the heart before and after a physical education unit centered on aerobic activity. Based on their findings, students will be able to explain such concepts as electromagnetic fields (EMF), power, and work as it relates to the heart, as well as make inferences to resistance and blood pressure. Tying in other curriculum areas, students will also study the mathematics of heart rhythm and conduct research on heart healthy choices and the dangers of heart disease.

Rebekah Hammack

Dirty Water

  • Rebekah Hammack
  • Stillwater Middle School
  • Stillwater, OK


By providing students with the opportunity to experience science and data collection as it applies to the real world, Rebeckah Hammack plans to teach her middle school students about environmental issues by presenting students with a scenario in which a coastal town has been devastated by a hurricane. Born out of Hammack’s participation in a research program at a local university, this curriculum unit involves the use of Vernier LabQuest technology to collect water quality data. Students will use the technology to test the quality of a polluted water sample by measuring pH, dissolved nitrates, turbidity, and color. After the data is collected, students will design and build a filter system to clean the water and then use Vernier sensors to test filtered water and compare the data to the initial findings to determine the effectiveness of the filter design.

High School

Celeste Best

Improving Athletic Performance

  • Celeste Best
  • Oyster River High School
  • Durham, NH


In Spring 2010, Celeste Best led an interdisciplinary activity combining science and physical education principles for more than 200 student participants. Students were to design and implement a scientific investigation that focused on the use of technology and biomechanical analysis to improve athletic performance. Working in teams, students investigated the swing of a baseball bat, the serve of a tennis racket and the swing of a golf club using 15-20 student subjects. The activity consisted of numerous tiers of implementation and, during the data collection phase, students used a variety of technology including Vernier’s Lab Creator for LabQuest to conduct a biomechanical analysis of the motion involved with each sport. From the data collected during analysis, teams worked collaboratively to create a written report that included the biomechanics of each activity, how these motions compare to sport-specific standards and recommendations about adjustments that could be made to enhance performance. Due to the success of the project, Best and her colleagues are planning to have students conduct the biomechanics activity again this summer.

Lai Cao

Engaging Physics Students with Technology

  • Lai Cao
  • Baton Rouge Magnet High School
  • Baton Rouge, LA


Cao believes that the use of different technologies, including computers, handheld data collection devices and probes, help to enhance students’ interest in learning physics while developing critical thinking skills and a solid understanding of the subject. Using Vernier technology commonly found in her labs and instruction, Cao engages her students in physics with a collection of hands-on activities that teach students methods of scientific research, data analysis and problem-solving skills while preparing them for college science courses.

One such example of these labs asks students to analyze the forces exerted on an object by investigating the effects on a wooden block when force is applied to it in different scenarios. Using a Vernier LabQuest and a force probe, students calculate the effect on the object by the net force, the applied force and by the friction, thus helping students delve into the concepts of velocity, position and acceleration.

Frank Wood

Out of This World

  • Frank Wood
  • Hardin Valley Academy
  • Knoxville, TN


As part of an astronomy enrichment program, Frank Wood has developed unique activities that incorporate data collection technology to capture student interest in this science discipline. He offers a non-credited course delivered during the school day to students who cannot participate in after-school activities due to bus transportation limitations.

During his inquiry-based activity “Development of Future Propulsion Systems,” Wood plans to have his high school students research the use of field force technology for future spacecraft propulsion. Using Vernier’s Logger Pro technology to conduct video analysis, students will discover the use of accelerator technologies in spaceship propulsion and the most efficient method for energy transfer in a magnetic accelerator. Throughout the enrichment course, Wood will also use Vernier technology for other astronomy activities, including plotting the progress of sunspots across the sun, tracking the progress of planetary and moon movement, developing solutions to increase CO2 readings and conducting activities to learn more about the remote discovery of composition stars.


Julie Ealy

Better Chemistry through Spectroscopy

  • Julie Ealy
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Center Valley, PA


Using Vernier’s SpectroVis technology, Julie Ealy, an associate professor of chemistry, had her second semester general chemistry students work in both small and large groups to conduct the “Kinetics of a Bleach Reaction” lab activity that investigated the reaction between bleach and dye. The hands-on activity was designed by Ealy to have students make multiple connections among the kinetics concepts that were observed visually using the SpectroVis sensor.

After experimentation with the different solutions using the SpectroVis to measure the absorbance of the reaction over time, students analyzed graphs and calculated the order of the dye and bleach, calculated multiple scientific principles related to the experiment, evaluated the relationship between the minimum and maximum wavelength absorbance and then formally assessed their results. The experiment taught students multiple scientific principles including energy and wavelength, the reaction process, visual spectrum observations and more.

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.

It's not too early to start planning your 2020 entry. Learn more »

Past Winners

Go to top