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News and Announcements

Vernier Sponsors the 2018 KidWind Challenge

To inspire students to learn about renewable energy and hone their engineering skills, Vernier supported the 2018 KidWind Challenge, hosted by KidWind. The challenge consists of dozens of local and regional competitions across the country, called KidWind Challenges, during which teams of students test the energy output of wind turbines they designed and built. Students also present their design processes to a panel of judges and participate in short design or problem-solving tasks called “Instant Challenges.”


Teams that take top place at local challenges are invited to the National KidWind Challenge. This year, almost 300 students in grades 4–12 from across the country traveled to Chicago, Illinois, for the National KidWind Challenge on May 8–10, 2018. The event, held during the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) WINDPOWER 2018 Conference & Exhibition, hosted a total of 21 high school and 40 middle school teams competing for the chance to win the grand prize of $750, the second place prize of $500, and the third place prize of $250.



The 2018 National KidWind Challenge Champions are

High School Division:

  • First Place – Redwood Express from Bath County High School in Hot Springs, Va.
  • Second Place – Tuttle Windy’s from Tuttle High School in Tuttle, Okla.
  • Third Place (Tie) – Silver Bullet from Coachella Valley High School in Thermal, Calif.
  • Third Place (Tie) – iTurbine X from Old Donation School in Virginia Beach, Va.

Middle School Division:

  • First Place – Oxford Air Sharks from Oxford Middle School in Oxford, Kan.
  • Second Place – SPINNERS from Lanier Middle School in Fairfax, Va.
  • Third Place – The Birds from Darlington Elementary-Middle School in Darlington, Wis.

Learn more about the 2018 National KidWind Challenge and how to get involved »

All images provided by the KidWind Project.

Vernier Total Solar Eclipse Campaign Wins 24th Annual Communicator Award of Distinction

Communicator Award of Distinction 2018 Logo

The Vernier Total Solar Eclipse Campaign recently won a 24th Annual Communicator Award of Distinction in the Integrated Campaign—Business to Consumer category. The campaign was recognized for successfully demonstrating one theme through various forms of media, such as print, social media, video, and more.

With entries received from across the United States and around the world, the Communicator Awards is the largest and most competitive awards program honoring creative excellence for communications professionals. The awards are judged and overseen by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA), a 600-plus member organization of leading professionals from various disciplines of the visual arts.

The multi-pronged Vernier Total Solar Eclipse Campaign celebrated last summer’s Great American Eclipse by providing tips, resources, and data that STEM teachers could use to teach students about the real-world physical phenomenon throughout the year. Examples of the data collected by educators using Vernier technology are available for free on the Vernier website. Sample data by Dave Vernier was also included in an article about the eclipse in The Physics Teacher.

In addition to the Communicator Award, the Vernier Total Solar Eclipse Campaign also won a One Planet Award and two Stevie® Awards.

Learn more about the Vernier total solar eclipse resources »

Vernier Total Solar Eclipse Campaign Wins Two Stevie® Awards

2018 Stevie Award Logo

The Vernier Total Solar Eclipse Campaign recently won two Stevie® Awards in the 16th Annual American Business Awards®. The campaign won a bronze in both the Branded Content Campaign of the Year and Small-Budget Marketing Campaign of the Year (<$3 million) categories.

This year’s awards program received more than 3,700 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry. More than 200 professionals worldwide participated in the judging process to select the winners.

The Vernier Total Solar Eclipse Campaign celebrated last summer’s Great American Eclipse by providing tips, resources, and data that STEM teachers could use to teach students about the real-world physical phenomenon throughout the year. Examples of the data collected by educators using Vernier technology are available for free on the Vernier website. Sample data by Dave Vernier was also included in an article about the eclipse in The Physics Teacher.

Learn more about the Vernier total solar eclipse resources »

Voluntary Recall on the Vernier Circuit Board 2

Vernier Circuit Board 2

Due to potential safety concerns, Vernier is conducting a voluntary recall of the Vernier Circuit Board 2 (order code VCB2). The issue is that it is possible to place the switch between two positions. When this happens, the power can short circuit and overheat the switch to dangerous temperatures. While no injuries have been reported, this affects Vernier Circuit Board 2 units that were purchased between August 2015 and April 2018.

Those who own one or more Vernier Circuit Board 2 units need to:

  1. Stop using the Vernier Circuit Board 2 immediately.
  2. Remove all batteries from the battery holders immediately.
  3. Arrange for a retrofit of the circuit board to eliminate this problem by providing your information in the Vernier recall form.

Once the recall form is filled out, Vernier will send the customer a prepaid UPS label to return the unit(s) for a free upgrade.

This recall was conducted, voluntarily by Vernier, under the Consumer Protection Safety Commission’s Fast Track Recall process. Fast Track recalls are initiated by firms who commit to work with CPSC to quickly announce the recall and remedy to protect consumers.

Coding with mBot: Self-Driving Vehicles Module

The topic of self-driving vehicles is one that combines diverse issues ranging from engineering to federal regulations. While it may be years before you have a self-driving car in your driveway, you can use mBot in your classroom today! Equipped with ultrasonic distance, line-following, and light-level sensors, mBot is an affordable, easy-to-program robot designed to bring coding and computer science education into the real world. With our new Coding with mBot: Self-Driving Vehicles module, a set of nine guided coding activities that build upon each other, you and your students can successfully learn to program mBot to mimic many self-driving car actions.

In Coding with mBot: Self-Driving Vehicles, students write programs to make mBot perform activities such as following a line, avoiding an obstacle, and parallel parking. Along the way students learn basic coding and troubleshooting skills. The activities are aligned with the Computer Science Teachers Association’s K-12 Computer Science Standards, and require only an mBot, the free mBlock software (based on the popular block-based programming language Scratch), and some patience for the occasional traffic jam.

In the first activity “Driving mBot,” students are introduced to mBlock software and write a program that allows them to control mBot’s movement in four directions, make sound with mBot’s buzzer, and turn on the built-in LEDs. Teaching tips and example programs in the accompanying Instructor Information support you as you facilitate student learning.

Download Activity 1, “Driving mBot,” as a free preview at www.vernier.com/mbot-msdv-e

Coding with mBot: Self-Driving Vehicles will be available soon as an electronic download and is included free with your purchase of one or more mBots from Vernier. If you already own mBot, you can purchase Coding with mBot: Self-Driving Vehicles separately (order code: MBOT-MSDV-E).

At the heart of mBot is the mCore, a microcontroller based on the Arduino Uno. In addition to the ultrasonic, line-following, and list-level sensors packaged with mBot, mCore has four RJ25 sensor ports, two motor ports, two RGB LEDs, a buzzer, and an IR transmitter/receiver. Students make use of all of those features while programming mBot to act as an autonomous vehicle. For instance, set up the RGB LEDs to work as turn signals. In addition, to help keep mBot on its track, the line-following sensor can serve as a trigger for a car alarm. mCore’s IR transmitter and receiver allow messages to be passed between mBots, making it possible to coordinate their motion and stop them from colliding.

The activities in Coding with mBot: Self-Driving Vehicles can be completed using the free mBlock app (iOS/Android) or with the more advanced mBlock software (Windows/macOS/ChromeOS). More experienced students can work even their way through the activities using the Arduino IDE.

Everyone from Google to GM® is interested in self-driving cars today. Bring that enthusiasm into the classroom with mBot and the activities in Coding with mBot: Self-Driving Vehicles. Learn more at www.vernier.com/mbot-msdv-e

Follow-Up on The Great American Eclipse

Light and UV data taken during totality in Oregon
Data taken during totality in Oregon

We enjoyed the eclipse and were pleased that so many people sent us great data collected during the event. Leading up to the eclipse, we encouraged science teachers to experience the eclipse from the path of totality, using the slogan, “The difference between a total eclipse and a partial eclipse is night and day.” Our employees were even given the day off to travel to the path of totality, as our office was only at 99 percent totality. We distributed and sold tens of thousands of eclipse glasses to ensure people could safely view the eclipse. In our previous newsletter (published just before the eclipse) we asked teachers to record and share with us data on the physical parameters (light level, UV intensity, temperature, etc.) observed during the eclipse.

See all the data from the solar eclipse »

Dave Vernier’s article in the December 2017 issue of The Physics Teacher includes data collected by many teachers around the country and by Vernier employees. Our extensive eclipse campaign also won an excellence award from One Planet.

Read more about the 2017 One Planet Best in Business and Professional Excellence Award »

Vernier helped sponsor a project to reproduce the Eddington experiment, which was an important verification of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. This group was headed up by Toby Dittrich, of Portland Community College, in Portland, Oregon. While the preliminary results of this experiment are promising, the final analysis is not yet complete, and we will provide further follow up in a later newsletter.

As part of this experiment, here is a photo with several overlapping exposures of different lengths. It includes marks around stars that are visible near the sun. The bending of light waves is what the Eddington experiment measured and can be seen in the very tiny changes in the positions of these stars.

Multiple Exposure of the Sun During Totality, with Nearby Stars Marked (photo by Richard Berry)
Multiple exposure of the sun during totality, with nearby stars marked (photo by Richard Berry)

Mark your calendar for the next total solar eclipse in the U.S. on April 8, 2024!

2017 CASE Award Winners

2018 CASE Award Winners
(left to right) Dan Jansen, CASE Project Director; Brooklyn Bush, CASE awardee; Matthew Eddy, CASE awardee; David Carter, Vernier STEM Training Director

Two agricultural science teachers were honored recently by the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE).

Brooklyn Bush of Tillamook High School, Tillamook, Oregon, received the CASE Innovation Award. This award highlights creative classroom and teaching approaches as CASE certified teachers implement and promote CASE curriculum. As a CASE teacher, Bush uses the Food Science and Safety curriculum to develop industry partnerships with the Tillamook County Creamery Association, Tillamook Smoker, Pacific Seafood, and Werner Meats. These partnerships inform students of employment opportunities in the agriculture industry and foster a network of support between students and members of the community. Bush looks forward to expanding community partnerships with Tillamook Bay Community College so her students will have the opportunity to earn college credits and industry credentials.

Matthew Eddy of Southeast Polk High School, Pleasant Hill, Iowa, received the inaugural CASE Model School Award. This award recognizes a school whose CASE certified teacher facilitates CASE instruction with the highest fidelity and offers a structured sequence of CASE courses. Eddy led the nation in adopting CASE in 2009. Through the agriculture program at Southeast Polk, he was able to field test many CASE courses. By offering a pathway for his students and engaging them through technology, including the implementation of CASE Online, Southeast Polk High School’s agriculture program ensures students are college and career ready with their knowledge of STEM.

Each award included $1,000 worth of Vernier Software & Technology products, registration to the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) convention, and a $500 travel stipend.

CASE is an ambitious project, started by the National Council for Agricultural Education in 2007 and managed by NAAE. Vernier is proud to have our technology used throughout the CASE curriculum. For additional information about CASE, please visit www.case4learning.org

Vernier Wins Two Tech & Learning Stellar Service Awards

Tech & Learning 2017 Stellar Service Award Winner

Vernier Software & Technology recently won two 2017 Tech & Learning Stellar Service Awards, which honor great achievements in customer care and satisfaction in the edtech industry. Selected by Vernier customers and Tech & Learning’s readers, Vernier was recognized for its free, hands-on workshops in the “Best Excuse To Leave The Classroom (Best In-Person Training Program)” and “Frequent Buyer Smiles (Best Perks & Extras)” categories.

Vernier offers more than 70 free, hands-on workshops nationwide each year. Led by experienced classroom teachers, the workshops offer novice and seasoned science and STEM instructors alike various ways to integrate data-collection technology into their curricula. During each four-hour workshop, educators explore classroom experiments using award-winning Vernier technology. Educators also receive an electronic copy of ready-to-use lab handouts and a free meal.

In addition to its workshops, Vernier offers educators a collection of free teaching resources, including innovative experiment ideas, data-collection apps, white papers on probeware research, a grant-writing guide, webinars, online video tutorials, and more.

Learn more about Vernier workshops »

2017 Ecology/Environmental Science Teaching Award Winner Announced

Robert Hodgdon

Robert Hodgdon of Richmond Hill Middle School in Richmond Hill, Georgia, was the 2017 recipient of the National Association of Biology Teachers’ NABT Ecology/Environmental Science Teaching Award. This award, sponsored by Vernier, was presented at the 2017 NABT Professional Development Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.

Mr. Hodgdon, a 7th grade Advanced Content Life Science teacher, developed an ecological studies program that provides students, parents, and staff with opportunities to participate in real-world ecological surveys in partnership with state and federal wildlife agencies. Hodgdon’s work has been recognized by numerous local, state, and national organizations, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. For more information, visit www.nabt.org

Vernier in the Chemistry Journals (Spring 2018)

Erasing the Glow in the Dark: Controlling the Trap and Release of Electrons in Phosphorescent Materials

William A. Getz, Dannielle A. Wentzel, Max J. Palmer, and Dean J. Campbell; J. Chem. Educ., 2018, 95 (2), pp 295–299.

The authors use fluorescence spectroscopy to demonstrate the darkening effect using lower energy wavelengths on the intensity of the fluorescent light and the time until the emission is quenched. A zinc sulfide phosphor doped with Cu metal is excited by a 405 nm LED, and the fluorescence spectrum is observed. In a second trial, after the excitation, a 650 nm red laser light is shined on the phosphor. The intensity of the fluorescence spectrum is diminished and the length of time that the light is emitted is reduced. Connections to understanding how electrons move from the valence band to the conduction band and back are made in the article. It also discusses the kinetics of the changes observed as they relate to temperature and activation energy. A Vernier SpectroVis Plus spectrophotometer and Optical Fiber were used to observe the spectra produced.

Adapting Three Classic Demonstrations To Teach Radiant Energy Trapping and Transfer As Related to the Greenhouse Effect

Dwayne A. Bell and Jesse C. Marcum; J. Chem. Educ., Articles ASAP (As Soon As Publishable).

The authors address three fundamental concepts that are part of students’ understanding of the greenhouse effect and global climate change; the existence of infrared radiation, absorption of IR by greenhouse gases, and steady-state energy flow.

To demonstrate the existence of infrared radiation, the authors used a Pyranometer to measure the level of irradiance at one centimeter increments along a rainbow spectrum they produced from a 300 W theatrical light. They were able to show that there was energy being produced from the light bulb, even though the pyranometer was placed in a part of the spectrum that appears black to the naked eye.

The authors also discuss their demonstrations of how carbon dioxide molecules are energetically excited and vibrate in the presence of infrared light by using models of the molecules constructed from balls and springs. They also model how energy flows through a system using a plastic water-flow device with changeable partitions to mimic the addition or removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Demonstrations of Magnetism and Oxidation by Combustion of Iron Supplement Tablets

Max J. Palmer, Keri A. Martinez, Mayuresh G. Gadgil, and Dean J. Campbell; J. Chem. Educ., 2018, 95 (3), pp 423-427.

The authors demonstrate the conversion of iron(II) ion in iron nutrient supplements to hematite by first heating a sample with a torch. They compare the products of heating a supplement to those produced by heating iron(II) sulfate heptahydrate. The second compound produces magnetite and maghemite, which have a stronger attraction to a magnet than hematite. The strength of the magnetic fields is measured and compared using a Magnetic Field Sensor and LabQuest 2.

Nanoparticle Synthesis, Characterization, and Ecotoxicity: A Research-Based Set of Laboratory Experiments for a General Chemistry Course

Zoe N. Amaris, Daniel N. Freitas, Karen Mac, Kyle T. Gerner, Catherine Nameth, and Korin E. Wheeler; J. Chem. Educ., 2017, 94 (12), pp 1939–1945.

Students learn to synthesis silver nanoparticles and then characterize them using UV-VIS spectroscopy and dynamic light scattering. The particles are easily synthesized with readily available reagents. To measure the spectrophotometric properties, the students used a Vernier UV-VIS Spectrophotometer. Green chemistry principles are followed during the course of this experiment.

Speciation and Determination of Low Concentration of Iron in Beer Samples by Cloud Point Extraction

Lida Khalafi, Pamela Doolittle, and John Wright; J. Chem. Educ., 2018, 95 (3), pp 463-467.

Students determine the concentration of iron in beer samples. They learn how to extract the iron and then complex it so that the concentration can be determined using the Beer-Lambert relationship. They set up standards and use absorbance spectroscopy to determine the concentration of iron in the original beer sample. Vernier SpectroVis Plus Spectrophotometers were used in this experiment.

Determining the Speed of Sound and Heat Capacity Ratios of Gases by Acoustic Interferometry

Thomas D. Varberg, Bradley W. Pearlman, Ian A. Wyse, Samuel P. Gleason, Dalir H. P. Kellett, and Kenneth L. Moffett; J. Chem. Educ., 2017, 94 (12), 1995–1998.

The authors describe a method to determine the speed of sound and heat capacity through various gases. They use a microphone and white noise apparatus connected to a sound cavity, which is a long, plastic tube. The data is collected and analyzed on an Apple iPad. They refer to work done in this same area by others using Vernier LabPro and LabQuest 2.

Because the tube has a fixed length, when the white noise is introduced into the tube, an interference pattern is generated and plotted. Students can apply a Fourier transform to determine the frequency spectrum of the standing waves in the tube.

Studying Intermolecular Forces with a Dual Gas Chromatography and Boiling Point Investigation

William Patrick Cunningham, Ian Xia, Kaitlyn Wickline, Eric Ivan Garcia Huitron, and Jun Heo; J. Chem. Educ., 2018, 95 (2), pp 300–304.

The authors describe two laboratory experiences they have developed for their students to study the difference in structure and intermolecular forces between n-butanol and ethanol. Students measure and plot the boiling temperature of ethanol, n-butanol, and an equimolar mixture. They also compare the behavior of each compound and the mixture as they pass through a gas chromatograph. The goal is to try to understand how the intermolecular forces between the compounds affect their properties. They also attempt to understand the differences in the shapes of the chromatograms as the individual compounds and mixture pass through the column in the gas chromatograph. For these activities the students used a Vernier Mini GC Plus Gas Chromatograph, temperature probes, and Logger Pro 3 software on a computer.

Open-Source Low-Cost Wireless Potentiometric Instrument for pH Determination Experiments

Hao Jin, Yiheng Qin, Si Pan, Arif U. Alam, Shurong Dong, Raja Ghosh, and M. Jamal Deen; J. Chem. Educ., 2018, 95 (2), 326–330.

The authors describe how to build a low cost pH probe from readily available, off-the-shelf parts. Their system uses an Arduino® board to process the data from a glass pH electrode. They also incorporate a temperature sensor and Bluetooth® wireless technology. They program their system using the Arduino Sketch programing language. The authors hope that by building this system their students will better understand how a pH meter works. A Go!Link and Voltage Probe were used to measure the voltage produced by the glass pH electrode.

Quantifying Sucralose in a Water-Treatment Wetlands: Service-Learning in the Analytical Chemistry Laboratory

Emily C. Heider, Domenic Valenti, Ruth L. Long, Amel Garbou, Matthew Rex, and James K. Harper; J. Chem. Educ., Articles ASAP (As Soon As Publishable).

As part of a service learning approach to increasing community engagement, students perform analytical chemical tests of wetlands to determine pH, chloride, total dissolved solids, and phosphorus. Since Sucralose has been determined to be a indicator of anthropogenic waste in natural waters, students also test for this artificial sweetener. A Conductivity Probe was used to determine total dissolved solids. Students measure the conductivity of the samples in µS/cm and then converted this value to ppm.

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