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Our New Saltwater Aquarium

We can wirelessly collect, analyze, and share sensor data from our new saltwater aquarium, located in the main lobby of the Vernier office in Beaverton, Oregon. The 125-gallon tank is now home to over 22 different species of fish, shrimp, crabs, anemones, and corals.

Our new PAR Sensor (measuring the level of photosynthetically active radiation), Optical DO Probe (measuring dissolved oxygen), Salinity Sensor, pH Sensor, and Stainless Steel Temperature Probe connected to two LabQuest 2 units help to monitor the tank’s health. Visitors to our office can use their iPhone, iPad, or Android devices to connect to each LabQuest 2 using the QR codes posted on a sign on the tank.

Measuring photosynthetic light levels and dissolved oxygen concentration in the saltwater aquarium using the PAR Sensor and the Optical DO Probe
Measuring photosynthetic light levels and dissolved oxygen concentration in the saltwater aquarium using the PAR Sensor and the Optical DO Probe

Tech Tip: Maintaining Your Sensor Cables

Using sensors day after day with several classes results in wear and tear on your equipment. We try to make our equipment sturdy enough to use for many years, however, cables sometimes get frayed with frequent use.

You can help prevent premature cable breakage through proper cable wrapping and preventative maintenance. First, sensor cables should not be wrapped around the sensor. While it might be tempting to wind the Stainless Steel Temperature Probe’s cable as tightly as possible around the shaft, or to wind the Photogate cable tightly around the Photogate, this can lead to premature fraying and breakage. See proper cord storage techniques FAQ »

What if your cables start to fray? You need to prevent further damage. While we do have a generous five-year warranty on most of our products, frayed cords are not an item we repair. One solution is to wrap a sticky and unsightly blob of electrical tape around the fraying portion. A neater solution that we have found is to use sugru®. Sugru is a moldable silicone rubber that cures in about 24 hours. Follow the directions on the package. Mold the sugru around the frayed portion of the wire and let it cure. Your wires should last you a while longer this way!

Frayed cables fixed by sugru
Frayed cables fixed by sugru

Tech Tip: Summer Storage Tips

Packing up your Vernier equipment for storage over the summer? Here are a few tips to ensure proper storage over summer break:

  • Turn your LabQuest 2 or original LabQuest completely off and disconnect from the Charger. In sleep mode, the battery drains much more quickly than when the unit is all the way off. To fully shut down, press and hold the power button for a full five seconds until LabQuest 2 displays the Shutdown message or an original LabQuest displays a black screen. If your school storage area is especially hot when the air conditioning is off for the summer, we recommend that you keep them in a location that remains cooler.
  • Store your pH Sensors and Oxidation-Reduction Potential (ORP) Sensors vertically in the storage solution provided. The storage solution needs to be replaced once a year, and replacement solution can be purchased, if needed. If the solution looks cloudy before vacation, it is probably best to change it before you leave.
  • Make sure no liquid (either in a cuvette or spilled) is inside your Colorimeter.
  • Store your Oxygen Gas Sensors upright using the 250 mL Nalgene bottle that was shipped with the sensor.
  • Make sure your Dissolved Oxygen Probes are completely dry after emptying the filling solution and rinsing the sensor electrode and cap.
  • Keep your Ion-Selective Electrodes in the humid environment of the storage bottles in which they were shipped. If the sponge at the bottom of the storage bottle has dried out, simply add a few drops of distilled water.

See more summer storage tips »

Vernier Accounts: Update Your Software

Did you know that you and your IT team can download the latest versions of Logger Pro and LabQuest Viewer from the Vernier website? A Vernier account lets you send update instructions, passwords, and links to your IT department. When it is time for the IT team to update your computers, you can help them by granting free, 24/7 access to the software you need.

Sign up for an account »

Vernier Volunteers with Restoring Ecosystems, Educating Future Conservation Leaders (REEF)

Salmon River Estuary on the Oregon coast
Salmon River Estuary on the Oregon coast

Vernier specialists, Colleen McDaniel and Kristen Nelson, volunteered their time to instruct students from Taft High School in Lincoln City, Oregon, about sampling water quality with LabQuest 2 at nearby Crowley Creek. Crowley Creek feeds into the Salmon River Estuary and provides an excellent opportunity to educate students about water quality.

Students used the Optical DO Probe, pH Sensor, Salinity Sensor, Stainless Steel Temperature Probe, and PAR Sensor to sample water directly in Crowley Creek. This was an introduction to hands-on water investigations they will experience later in class. Chemistry teacher, Dustin Quandt, will be working with almost 100 students to monitor different locations contributing to the Salmon River Estuary throughout the rest of this school year. He reached out to the REEF program to establish this outdoor field trip for his students.

The Restoring Ecosystems, Educating Future Conservation Leaders (REEF) program is an educational partnership developed by Salmon Drift Creek Watershed Council to protect and restore local watersheds, to provide environmental awareness, and to provide conservation career development. REEF is collaborating with the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Ocean Literacy Initiative to deliver watershed science programs and watershed field trips for students at Taft High School.

For more information regarding the REEF program, visit www.salmondrift.org

New Design for the Drop Counter

Vernier Drop Counter's new design

Our popular Drop Counter has a new look for 2014! The Drop Counter is commonly used with sensors such as the pH Sensor and Conductivity Probe to automatically record the volume of liquid added to a mixture. The redesigned Drop Counter is better than ever, with new features that improve its overall ease of use:

  • The wider drop-detecting area is able to record drops at rates as high as six drops/second.
  • A new red LED blinks each time a drop is detected, providing confirmation that all is going well.
  • The Drop Counter still has two sensor slots: The smaller slot can now be adjusted to accommodate a variety of temperature probes and thermometers, as well as to help position the probe or thermometer properly. The larger slot fits most stick-type sensors, from pH Sensors to Ion-Selective Electrodes to the Dissolved Oxygen Probe.
  • The updated ring stand clamp allows for a wider range of ring stand sizes and for clamping to a lab

The Drop Counter is an integral part of several of our acid-base titration experiments. Check out Experiment 24 in Chemistry with Vernier, Experiment 7 in Advanced Chemistry with Vernier, or Experiment 17 in Investigating Chemistry through Inquiry.

Vernier Energy Sensor and Vernier Variable Load

Vernier Energy Sensor

The Vernier Energy Sensor offers an easy way to quantify voltage, current, power, and energy output of small wind turbines and solar panels such as those used in our KidWind Experiment Kits. The Vernier Variable Load is used in conjunction with the Vernier Energy Sensor to provide a range of resistive loads for projects such as wind turbines or solar panels.

Learn more about the Vernier Energy Sensor »

Tech Tip: Choosing a Spectrometer

Vernier offers a number of spectrometers. Which spectrometer is right for you? This is an important question. The first step begins with identifying the applications for which you want to use your spectrometer. We offer spectrometers that measure absorbance, fluorescence, and/or emissions.

We sell two visible-range spectrometers that can be used to study compounds that absorb light from 380 to 950 nm. SpectroVis Plus, a great, budget-friendly option, offers fluorescence capabilities with excitation at two different wavelengths, 405 and 500 nm. The Vernier Spectrometer, powered by Ocean Optics™ technology, is an excellent choice for college chemistry.

Do you study absorbance spectra of compounds in the ultraviolet range? Check out the new Vernier UV-VIS Spectrophotometer. With the UV-VIS Spectrophotometer you can monitor the rate of a reaction or collect data for an absorbance vs. concentration experiment for compounds that absorb light in the UV and visible range (200 to 850 nm). UV-VIS Spectrophotometer specifications and free, downloadable experiments can be found on the UV-VIS Spectrophotometer product page.

If your application involves looking at emissions spectra from light bulbs or gas discharge tubes, you may be interested in the new Vernier Emissions Spectrometer. The Vernier Emissions Spectrometer gives precise measurements over a range of 350 to 900 nm.

If you remain undecided about which spectrometer would be the best option for you, watch our Tech Tips video, “Which Spectrometer is Right for Me?

And, of course, if you continue to have questions, feel free to call and ask for a chemistry specialist.

Tech Tip: Tips and Tricks for Excellent Cellular Respiration Data

Cellular respiration in germinating peas
Cellular respiration in germinating peas

Cellular respiration is a fundamental concept in biology. Our CO2 and O2 Gas Sensors make it easy for your students to study this concept, producing excellent data, as shown above. However, you can’t just place a few peas in a chamber and expect to see great results when using both sensors at the same time. Our resident biologists have recently revisited the “Cellular Respiration” experiments in Biology with Vernier and Advanced Biology with Vernier to provide you with the following tips and tricks for consistently good results when using both sensors.

  • For best results, you should follow the Teacher Information, which calls for using peas that have been allowed to germinate for three days. However, you can still get very good data with peas that have been soaked for 12−24 hours. You just need to use more peas.
  • Blot the peas with a paper towel before you put them in the chamber. Excess water vapor can interfere with both sensors.
  • Use the BioChamber 250 as the sample chamber, and fully line the bottom with peas to maximize the number of peas in the chamber. Twenty-five peas work fine if you are just using the CO2 Gas Sensor. But we recommend using at least 40−50 peas if you want to see significant changes in oxygen concentration. This is very important, especially if you are using peas that have only been germinating for 12−24 hours.
  • Oxygen levels are very high in ambient air (20.9%) and your students are measuring a relatively small change in concentration over time in this experiment. This change will be much easier to observe if your students change the units to ppt or ppm. By following these suggestions, you and your students should get good results when using the CO2 and O2 Gas Sensors at the same time.

Spring 2014 Caliper

In the latest edition of The Caliper, we’re showcasing new products and experiment ideas in time for spring.

  • New Vernier Energy Sensor and Vernier Variable Load
  • New LabQuest Viewer for iPad
  • Vernier Motion Encoder System: Measurement of Jerk
  • Quantitatively Investigate Hydrogen and Helium Emissions
  • Demonstrate the Existence of Polyatomic Ions
  • Investigate How PAR Levels Influence Photosynthetic Rate
  • Tips and Tricks for Excellent Cellular Respiration Data
  • Winners: Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards and Vernier Engineering Contest
  • Job Opening at Vernier

Read it online or join our mailing list to have The Caliper delivered to your school or email twice a year.

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