Beaverton, OR – March 22, 2006 – Vernier Software & Technology announces the six winners of the 2006 Vernier/National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Technology Award. Ranging from elementary school to college, these six educators were judged by a panel of experts, appointed by NSTA, to be the best in their respective categories.
Educator: Deborah Wikerham at Chamberlin Hill Intermediate in Findlay Ohio.
For her “The Power of the A.P.P.L.E. Bus” program, Deborah Wickerham at Chamberlin Hill Intermediate in Findlay, Ohio partnered with community organizations, area school districts, and local scientists, to create the A.P.P.L.E. (Awesome, Practical, Powerful, Learning Experience) bus, a mobile science technology laboratory containing data-collection technology, including the Vernier LabPro and sensors. Starting in third grade, students use the A.P.P.L.E bus to investigate various ecosystems found at Van Buren State Park. They conduct “pre-bus” activities; on-site field tests, specimen collection and observation, and follow-up data analysis. Wickerham also encourages 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.
Category: Middle School
Educator: Jamie Mabry, sixth grade science teacher and department chairman at New London Choice Middle School in New London, N.C.
Mabry’s “Soil on the Horizon in Stanly County”” reflects his conviction that teaching with technology can positively impact student attitudes and achievement, especially for at-risk students. The program also builds their awareness of issues affecting their predominately farming community and enables them to take an active role. Students bring in soil samples from all over the county and use the Vernier pH sensor to measure pH levels and ascertain fertility. Once they have completed their analysis, the students present their findings to a Stanly County Soil and Water Conservation Board committee.
Category: High School Biology
Educator: Heidi Anderson, AP biology teacher at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in
In the “Heart Rate Measures in Crayfish: Environmental Changes, Social Interactions and Physiological Response” program, Anderson collaborates with researchers from the University of Kentucky to develop inquiry-based activities. Students connect the Vernier EKG Sensor to wires inserted under the dorsal carapace of a crayfish and monitor the animal’s heart rate. They 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. Anderson’s students gain 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.
Category: High School Environmental
Educator: David Jones, chemistry teacher at Big Sky High School in Missoula, Mont.
In “Air Toxics Under the Big Sky,” Jones’ students look for links between asthma incidence and levels of different air pollutants, particularly during severe temperature inversions.
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 of Montana’s chemistry department, the Center for Environmental Health Sciences, and the Missoula City and County Health departments to interpret the data and relate their findings to real-world applications.
Category: High School Rocketry
Educator: Stephen Potashnik, physics and math teacher at the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School in Tappahannock, VA.
In Potashnik’s “Rocketry” lab, students work in small groups on model rockets they construct from kits. Prior to launching the rockets, students mount the rocket engines horizontally on a Vernier Dynamics System cart and measure the engine thrust using a Force Sensor. They use numerical integration techniques to analyze the thrust data and predict the maximum height their rockets will attain. Predictions are compared with results of the actual launch, and any discrepancies are investigated with rocket simulation software that models air drag.
Educator: Marina Milner-Bolton, instructor and research associate at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“Interactive Learning Experiments – Improving Student Experiences in Introductory Science Courses” helps Milner-Bolton meet the goals of building interest in science, developing critical thinking and problem solving skills, and supporting independent and responsible thinkers. During lecture demonstrations in her introductory physics classes, she uses Vernier Logger Pro software and a digital video camera to record data.
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. For the next lecture, they submit the results of their analysis, using a classroom response system, and feedback is provided. Milner-Bolton’s approach turns traditional “show-and-tell” demonstrations into interactive learning experiments. She will be studying the success of this program through continued research on student achievement.
Each winner receives $1,000 in cash, $1,000 in Vernier Products, and up to $1,000 toward expenses to attend the 2006 NSTA National Convention in Anaheim, California, April 6-9. They will be formally recognized during the convention’s NSTA Awards Banquet.
About Vernier Software & Technology
Vernier Software & Technology has been an innovator of data-collection technology for 25 years. Creating easy-to-use and affordable science interfaces, sensors, and software, their products can be found in education from elementary school to college. Vernier helps teachers enhance their science curriculum, increase learning, and build students’ critical thinking skills. For more information visit www.vernier.com.