Beaverton, OR – April 1, 2005 – Vernier Software & Technology today announced the six winners of the 2005 Vernier/National Science Teachers Association Technology Award: Julia Green of Berry Elementary in Detroit, Michigan; Diane Callahan of Fairfield Middle School in Fairfield, Ohio; Robert Schlichting of Cleveland High School in Portland, Oregon; Stan Wawrzyniak of Bow High School in Bow, New Hampshire; Gillian Winters of Sachem North High School in Lake Ronkonkoma, New York; and James Vesenka of the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine.
“These six winners demonstrated innovative uses of data-collection technology within the science classroom,” said David Vernier, co-founder of Vernier and former physics teacher. “We hope that highlighting their creativity and commitment will inspire other teachers to apply similar methods.”
Green’s “Drinking Fountain Dilemma” program uses inquiry learning and Vernier probes to foster active scientific investigations. Investigations have included finding the school’s coldest drinking fountain, the pH of the soil around the building, and the real temperature of microwave popcorn. Students explore scientific understandings, strengthen mathematical thinking and concepts, and engage in dialogue. Using probes helped the students more easily understand difficult concepts.
Callahan based her curriculum for water quality and watersheds on the CSI TV show, resulting in “CSI: Creek Scene Investigation.” Students identified the “body” of water, “fingerprinted” it via topographic maps, and then employed forensic entomology and toxicology. Using handheld technology, students collected and analyzed data from various water sources in the area. The process of identifying the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of water taught the children what constitutes a safe and clean water supply. The class presented their findings to the city council, and the students have become change agents for their environment.
In Schlichting’s “Glacier Energy Balance,” a Vernier Motion Detector was successfully adapted for use on Eliot Glacier, Mt. Hood during the past summer. The purpose was to measure the surface lowering of the glacier due to melting. The Motion Detector was programmed to log distance to the glacier surface every 15 minutes for a period of three weeks and measured up to 10 cm of surface lowering per day. The students also measured the temperature profiles within rocky debris layers on portions of the glacier in order to determine how the heat of the debris affected the melting of the underlyingglacier. The students will next use thermodynamics concepts and equations to develop an energy budget for the glacier.
Wawrzyniak’s “ROVER: Remotely Operated Vehicle for Education and Research” allows for real-time observation of the underwater world via a remotely operated submersible capable of data collection and basic manipulations. The submersible uses a Vernier LabPro interface and a variety of sensors to collect underwater data. A Vernier Digital Control Unit is used to control the submersible and an onboard video camera records and sends real-time video and data to a control laptop.
In Winter’s “Planck’s Constant” physics lab, students determine Planck’s constant, h, a fundamental constant of modern physics. Students use current and voltage probes interfaced with Vernier LabPro to determine the current through, and potential difference (voltage) across, various Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).
Vesenka is an associate professor of physics and his concept focused on “Modeling The Bernoulli Principle with the Vernier Barometer.” A counterintuitive model that life sciences students must confront is that increased velocity of fluid results in a decrease in fluid pressure. Vernier’s “barometer” pressure gauge was used for the fluid and Vernier’s motion detector determined wind speed. This data allowed for the modeling of Bernoulli’s principle, with the density of air solved empirically to within 10% of the accepted value.
Each of the winners received a $1,000 cash award, $1,000 in Vernier equipment, and $1,000 towards travel and expenses to attend NSTA’s 2005 National Convention in Dallas, Texas. The check, products certificate and a commemorative plaque will be presented during the NSTA Awards Banquet at the convention, which will take place March 31 – April 3, 2005.
About Vernier Software & Technology
Vernier Software & Technology has been an innovator of data-collection technology for more than 20 years. Creating easy-to-use and affordable science interfaces, sensors, probes and software, their products can be found in education from middle school to college. Their latest endeavors provide quality tools for elementary schools. Vernier helps teachers enhance their science curriculum, increase learning and build students’ critical thinking skills. For more information visit Vernier on the Web at www.vernier.com.