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2007 Technology Award Winners

Vernier/NSTA 2007 Technology Award

We are pleased to announce the 2007 Vernier/NSTA Technology Award Winners. The winners are awarded for their innovative use of data-collection technology using a computer, graphing calculator, or other handheld in the science classroom.

Read the synopsis of the winners’ submissions.

Wendy Smith
3rd Grade Teacher
Klem Road South Elementary School
Webster, NY

Middle School
Michael Breslow
7th Grade Science Teacher, NBCT
Belhaven Middle School
Linwood, NJ

Thomas Eddy
Science Teacher
Green Lake School District
Green Lake, WI

High School
Timothy Couillard
James River High School
Midlothian, VA

Michael Liebl
Physics/Chemistry/Mathematics Instructor
Mount Michael Benedictine School
Elkhorn, NE

Brent Osborn
Science Teacher
North Central High School
Spokane, WA

James “Tiger” Gordon
Professor of Chemistry
Central Methodist University
Fayette, MO

Here is the press release:

Innovation Reigns Supreme in Winners of 2007 NSTA/Vernier Technology Award

Awardees win funding for science equipment and professional development

Beaverton, OR — March 29, 2007 Vernier Software & Technology announces the seven winners of the 2007 Vernier/National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Technology Award, where innovation with data-collection technology reigns supreme. Ranging from elementary school to college, these seven educators were judged by a panel of experts, appointed by NSTA, and selected for creating innovative data-collection lessons and programs in their classrooms.

Each winner receives $1,000 in cash, $1,000 in Vernier products, and up to $1,000 toward expenses to attend the 2007 NSTA National Convention in St. Louis, MO, March 29-31, 2007. They will be formally recognized during the convention’s NSTA Awards Banquet.

The winners are as follows:

Category: Elementary
Educator: Wendy Smith, 3rd Grade Teacher at Klem Road South Elementary School in Webster, NY.
Her “Investigating Seasonal Changes” lessons let her students be environmental scientists as they investigate seasonal changes and the ecosystem in nearby North Ponds Park. The year-long project had students developing their own questions and taking sensors to the park to gather data.

The students collected air, water, and soil temperatures around the park, as well as pH and dissolved oxygen levels in the ponds. The students shared their work by creating e-books, pod-casts, and videos, which are available on the school website. Wendy created guided inquiry lessons in which students investigated whether shade affects the temperature of a body of water, and whether it is easier for fish to breathe in warm or cold water. Wendy used these activities to show how data-collection technology can be used to investigate scientific phenomena.

Category: Middle School
Educator: Michael Breslow, 7th Grade Teacher at Belhaven Middle School in Linwood, NJ.
Michael Breslow knows how to motivate 7th graders with topics of high interest, — pop culture and sports. His lesson “Learning Physics at the Ballpark” takes his physical science students to a local baseball stadium to study physics principles associated with pitching. Students are then asked to turn this experience into an “Academic” Idol video in which they explain the lesson and what they learned. The success of this activity has led to donations of additional technology from the community, and the activity has expanded into a cross-curricular project including baseball history, literature, math, and science.

Educator: Thomas Eddy, Science Teacher at Green Lake School District in Green Lake, WI.
Tom’s passion for preserving the 55,000+ acre Green Lakes Watershed has led to his involvement in a “Partners in Education” project sponsored by the Green Lake Sanitary District. Tom’s project “Biotic Indexing and Stream Water Quality” introduces students to the semi-annual activity of monitoring seven streams found in the Green Lake watershed. The students perform a survey of the aquatic organisms that inhabit the water resource, and use a biotic index that relates the presence (or absence) of specific invertebrates to a quantitative measure of the stream’s health. In addition, to determine water quality, they use data-collection probeware to measure temperature, pH, flow rate, conductivity, turbidity, and ion levels (nitrate, ammonium, and chloride). The project has motivated students to develop their own studies, some of which have been presented to the Wisconsin Association of Lakes and the Wisconsin Science Congress.

Category: High School
Educator: Timothy Couillard, Teacher at James River High School in Midlothian, VA
Tim believes the best way to promote science is to use technology that puts “discovery” back into science classes. Students taking his senior science research course are expected to research, design, conduct, and present a scientific inquiry of their choosing. Tim introduces this methodology by having them participate in an “In the Footsteps of Galileo: The James River Pumpkin Drop” activity that combines a replication of Galileo’s Tower of Pisa free fall experiment with the excitement of an egg drop competition. Not only are the students required to produce a container that can protect a pumpkin dropped from various heights, they must determine which data-collection option (Motion Detector, Video Analysis, Wireless Sensors, or GPS) will best track the motion of their pumpkin during freefall. Sounds messy, doesn’t it?

Educator: Michael Liebl, Physics/Chemistry/Mathematics Instructor at Mount Michael Benedictine School in Elkhorn, NE
Michael’s lesson “A Flashlight Without Batteries! How does that Work?” motivates the discussion of energy production, storage, and transfer with his physics students. The investigation begins with discovering how the flashlight generates energy. A voltage probe connected to a resistor in series with a solenoid allows his students to explore Faraday’s law of induction and highlights some of the challenges of energy production. The flashlight’s ability to remain lit after shaking has stopped leads to an investigation in energy storage. Michael has his students use a light sensor to study the exponential decay of the light intensity as the internal capacitor discharges.

Educator: Brent Osborn, Science Teacher at North Central High School in Spokane, WA.
Brent’s students make use of data-collection technology in their study of local environmental issues, many of which have national implications, in his lesson “Investigating Pinecroft Natural Area Preserve.” The students, who attend this inner-city school, collaborate with college and government researchers as they design and carry out their own research projects.

In support of this program, Brent created the North Central High School Journal of Science and the North Central Science Symposium, which provide a vehicle for his students to present their research to the community and change the perception that students from low socio-economic backgrounds cannot excel in science.

Category: College
Educator: James “Tiger” Gordon, Professor of Chemistry at Central Methodist University in Fayette, MO.
Learning science requires doing science, and in today’s technological world, that means using technology to its fullest extent. This has been a motivating principle behind Tiger’s implementation of the computer and handheld data-acquisition technology in his “Implementing Data-Collection Technology at Central Methodist University” science courses at CMU. Tiger uses technology as part of both inquiry-based and concept-confirming laboratories in courses ranging from Concepts in Physical Science and General Chemistry, to Methods of Middle and High School Science Education, to Quantitative Chemical Analysis and Scientific Instrumentation. He is most proud of the accomplishments of his students who used data-acquisition technology in their research projects, some of which have been published in “The Journal of Chemical Education” and “The Chemical Educator.”

If you are interested in speaking with any of these innovative educators, please contact Kathleen Pomorski at or via phone at 410-975-9638.

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. Vernier’s technologies are in use worldwide in more than 120 countries. For more information visit

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