Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology
Vernier News

News and Announcements

The 2019 Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards Deadline is Approaching!

The deadline for applications for the 2019 Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards is quickly approaching. This annual awards program recognizes seven educators—one elementary teacher, two middle school teachers, three high school teachers, and one college-level educator—for their innovative uses of data-collection technology in the science classroom or laboratory.

Each winner, chosen by a panel of NSTA-appointed experts, will receive $1,000 in cash, $3,000 in Vernier products, and up to $1,500 toward expenses to attend the annual NSTA National Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 11–14, 2019.

All current K–12 and college science educators are eligible to apply. The deadline for submitting an application is December 17, 2018.

Last year’s award winners, including Robert Hodgdon from Richmond Hill Middle School, Richmond Hill, Georgia, demonstrated a variety of ways data-collection technology can be used in and out of the classroom. Hodgdon engaged his students in real-world ecological investigations to help them develop STEM career readiness skills. This included students using Vernier data-collection technology, such as pH sensors, to understand the biotic and abiotic factors relevant to their local habitats including tidal marshes, ephemeral wetlands, and relic forests.

“Winning the Vernier/NSTA Awards provided us with a new collection of LabQuest® 2 interfaces, as well as new temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity probes,” said Hodgdon. “Students are able to use these technologies during ecological activities and as an integrated part of their science instruction year-round.”

Learn more about the Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards »

Join 100 Million Students in Hour of Code

“Computer science empowers students to create the world of tomorrow.
– Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

What is Hour of Code?

The Hour of Code is a global movement introducing tens of millions of students worldwide to computer science, inspiring kids to learn more, breaking stereotypes, and leaving them feeling empowered. The Hour of Code began as a one-hour coding challenge to give students a fun first introduction to computer science and has become a global learning event, celebration, and awareness event.

Why computer science?

Computer science is foundational and is changing every industry on the planet. Every 21st-century student should have the opportunity to learn how to create technology. Computer science concepts also help nurture creativity and problem-solving skills to prepare students for any future career.

Economic Opportunity for All

Computing occupations are the fastest-growing, best paying, and now the largest sector of all new wages in the US. Every child deserves the opportunity to succeed.

The value of a computer science education

Students love it!

Recent surveys show that among classes students “like a lot,” computer science and engineering rank near the top—only performing arts, art, and design are higher.

Students like computer science and engineering

Vernier offers coding activities appropriate to introduce your entry-level coders to block-based languages like Scratch and LEGO® MINDSTORMS®. We also offer activities for intermediate-level coders utilizing Python® or JavaScript. For applications that require test, measurement, and control with rapid access to hardware and data insights, Vernier sensors are supported in advanced languages like LabVIEW and Arduino®.

Ready to participate with your class?

We’ve created two free coding activities utilizing Scratch to help you and your students participate in Hour of Code this year. Scratch offers colorful and modularized drag-and-drop graphical blocks that make it easy for programmers to code.

Hour of Code Activity for Entry Level Coders

In this activity students program a catch game where they can make choices on graphics and game options. The free Scratch software works on your web-connected device.

If you have an Low-g Accelerometer in your classroom, our free activity guide integrates the sensor into the Catch Game activity and your students learn how to integrate their code with hardware.

Download the Vernier Catch activity for Scratch

The Catch Game can also be completed by any classroom with no sensors needed.

Explore the Catch activity in Scratch

Hour of Code Activity for Advanced Coders

For more advanced coders, this activity combines Scratch-based coding and exploration of the ideal gas laws. Students can change multiple variables and observe changes. Results can be compared with their calculations.

Download the Ideal Gas Law Exploration activity with instructors guide

Explore the Ideal Gas Law Exploration activity in Scratch

The ‘Hour of Code™’ is a nationwide initiative by Computer Science Education Week [csedweek.org] and Code.org [code.org] to introduce millions of students to one hour of computer science and computer programming.

Happy Halloween

NSTA Recommends Takes the Vernier Go Direct® O2 Gas Sensor on a Flight

NSTA Recommends recently featured the Go Direct® O2 Gas Sensor. In his review, Martin Horejsi used the wireless sensor to collect data during various investigations, including an out-of-the-classroom experiment on an airplane. He highlighted the sensor’s features, plug-and-play functionality, and overall ease of use.

Photo of Go Direct O2 Gas sensor tucked in seat pocket for data collection.
A student, who was travelling with Martin Horejsi on a trip to a NASA facility, collected data with Go Direct O2 Gas while on an airplane. The Go Direct O2 Gas Sensor is tucked into an airplane seat pocket. (Image provided by Martin.)
Graph of oxygen gas levels in airplane cabin during approach for landing
The oxygen gas level in the cabin rose upon the plane’s approach for landing. (Image provided by Martin.)

In the review, Martin says:

“With [the] new Go Direct® O2 Gas Sensor, the ability for students to measure relative oxygen concentration has never been easier or faster.”

“As a wireless probe the Vernier Go Direct® O2 Gas Sensor provides all the necessary capabilities of an O2 sensor with none of the pesky cables that limit use, knock over experiments, and require an additional interface.”

He concludes by saying:

“The Vernier Go Direct® O2 Gas Sensor pushes the boundary of experimental measurement forcing a teaching evolution beyond the analog. We can now fulfill the dream as science teachers to where our students leave us behind as they accelerate past us.”

The Go Direct® O2 Gas Sensor measures gaseous oxygen concentration levels and air temperature. It is part of the complete Go Direct family of sensors that offers teachers and students maximum versatility to collect scientific data either wirelessly or via a USB connection. These low-cost sensors can be used in more than 300 teacher-tested experiments developed by Vernier and are supported by free graphing and analysis software, the Graphical Analysis 4 app.

Read more about the Go Direct O2 Gas Sensor on NSTA Recommends »

Vernier Go Direct® Sensors Win a 2018 Tech Edvocate Award

The Tech Edvocate Awards 2018 Winner Logo

Our Go Direct family of sensors, along with Graphical Analysis 4, recently won a 2018 Tech Edvocate Award. The family of wireless sensors and its accompanying software were recognized in the Best STEM/STEAM Education App or Tool category.

After an initial round of online voting by educators, finalists and winners were ultimately selected by a panel comprised of two edtech thought leaders, two pre-K through 12th grade teachers, one college professor, two K through 12 administrators, one college administrator, and two pre-K through 12th grade parents. The winning products were chosen based on the extent to which they are transforming education.

The complete Go Direct family of sensors offers teachers and students maximum versatility to collect scientific data either wirelessly or via a USB connection. These low-cost sensors can be used in more than 300 teacher-tested experiments developed by Vernier and are supported by free graphing and analysis software, the Graphical Analysis 4 app.

Learn more about Go Direct sensors and Graphical Analysis 4 »

The Centripetal Force Apparatus Goes Wireless

Go Direct® Centripetal Force Apparatus

The new Go Direct® Centripetal Force Apparatus makes it easier than ever to investigate rotational dynamics. Students can investigate the relationships among force, mass, and radius wirelessly—all you need is the Go Direct Centripetal Force Apparatus, a Go Direct Force and Acceleration Sensor, and a device running our free Graphical Analysis 4 app. No additional interface is needed.

With Go Direct Force and Acceleration mounted on the apparatus’ beam, you are ready to investigate centripetal acceleration. Attach the mass carriage, and you can explore Newton’s second law as it applies to rotational dynamics. No tangled wires to worry about. All you need to do is slide the sensor onto the beam, attach the mass carriage, and secure the sensor at the desired location. Select the appropriate data-collection channels in Graphical Analysis 4 for your investigation: Z-axis gyro to capture angular velocity, X-axis acceleration for centripetal acceleration, and/or Force for centripetal force. Then, you’re ready to collect data. As you turn the spindle to rotate the beam, the sensor will apply the force necessary to pull the carriage in a circular motion.

Graph of force vs. angular velocity with a curve fit
Applying a curve fit to the raw data will provide students with clues to nature of this relationship.

The relationship can be further explored as students apply knowledge gained from the curve fit to linearize the data.

Graph of force vs. angular velocity linearized
Linearized data for a rotating mass. What are the units of the slope of the line? Can your students predict the mass given the position on the beam?

Students can quickly devise their own experiments to develop a model for the effect of mass or radius of rotation on the force, and then test the model. Select a mass and position and see if it matches their prediction.

Robotic Hand Project

We have had a lot of fun with the Robotic Hand project, which we discovered in the Hacking STEM Library from Microsoft®. Using our Low-g Accelerometer, an Arduino, and our Vernier Arduino Interface Shield, we modified the project to create an easier control system.

See instructions for building and controlling the hand »

Easily Record and Analyze EMGs with Go Direct® EKG

Normal and rectified EMGs recorded from the forearm
Normal and rectified EMGs recorded from the forearm

Many teachers are interested in using our EKG sensors to record an electromyogram (EMG), the electrical activity produced from muscle contractions. Recording an EMG is straightforward, but there are multiple ways that an EMG can be analyzed. The most robust technique is to measure the integral of the rectified EMG signal, which can easily be done using the Go Direct EKG Sensor.

A normal EMG has both positive and negative deflections. A rectified EMG uses a function that makes all of the EMG deflections positive—the larger the integral, the larger the muscle contraction. In the past, we have offered special Logger Pro and LabQuest files that provide the proper filtering and calculated column support to record and analyze rectified EMGs. But, the Go Direct EKG Sensor makes recording rectified EMGs much simpler. No special files or filter settings are required—just change the channel to EMG Rectified and start collecting data. Then simply measure the integral of the signal in Graphical Analysis.

The sample graph shows an example of an EMG and rectified EMG recorded from the forearm using Go Direct EKG. A digital high-pass filter that has been optimized for recording EMGs is automatically applied to the EMG channel. The EMG Rectified channel returns the absolute value of the EMG channel, making all of the EMG deflections positive.

To analyze the rectified EMGs, simply select the region of the rectified EMG you want to analyze and use the View Integral feature in Graphical Analysis 4. You can even compare the integrals of different rectified EMGs to see which condition produced less or more muscle activity. For example, in the sample graph, the area of the rectified EMG increases with each burst of activity. The first, second, and third rectified EMGs have areas of 0.181, 0.329, and 0.441 mV s.

If you have any questions about EMGs or human physiology, feel free to contact physiology@vernier.com

What Are the Best Light Sources For Photosynthesis?

Photosynthetic organisms such as plants and algae use electromagnetic radiation from the visible spectrum to drive the synthesis of sugar molecules. Special pigments in chloroplasts of plant cells absorb the energy of certain wavelengths of light, causing a molecular chain reaction known as the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis. The best wavelengths of visible light for photosynthesis fall within the blue range (425–450 nm) and red range (600–700 nm). Therefore, the best light sources for photosynthesis should ideally emit light in the blue and red ranges. In this study, we used a Go Direct® SpectroVis® Plus Spectrophotometer with a Vernier Spectrophotometer Optical Fiber and LabQuest 2 to collect spectra from four different light sources. This allowed us to determine the wavelengths emitted by each source and to get an idea of their relative intensities.

Wavelengths of light outside of the red and blue ranges are not used by most plants, and can contribute to heat build-up in plant tissues. This heat can damage plants and even interfere with photosynthesis. In order to identify the ideal light source for photosynthesis studies we compared the output or emission spectra of four different E27 type bulbs in the same desk lamp: a) 60 W incandescent bulb, b) 35 W halogen bulb, c) 28 W-equivalent LED “plant bulb” (6–9 W), and d) 13 W compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb. Each light was measured at a standard distance of 50 cm.

Emission spectra graph comparing light sources.
Relative light intensity of four light bulbs across the visible spectrum

Based on our results, the best light bulb for promoting photosynthesis in plants was the LED plant bulb. This bulb produces a strong output in both the blue and red wavelengths, with very little additional light in other regions to cause heat build-up. All of the other light sources had very little output in the blue range. The halogen and incandescent bulbs had extremely broad output ranges from green to deep into the red portion of the spectrum, but with little to nothing in the blue range. The least suitable lamp for photosynthesis was the CFL bulb. While it emitted some light in both the blue and red ranges (with several peaks in between), the intensity of this bulb was the weakest when compared to all the other lamps. LED plant lights are available from a variety of online merchants and home and garden stores. They have become very affordable, and work well for experiments that investigate photosynthesis.

Vernier in the Chemistry Journals (Fall 2018)

Heat Evolution and Electrical Work of Batteries as a Function of Discharge Rate: Spontaneous and Reversible Processes and Maximum Work

Robert J. Noll and Jason M. Hughes; J. Chem. Educ., 2018, 95, pp 852−857.

This article describes an experiment in which students compare the enthalpy change of the useful electrical work to the heat lost from the electrochemical reaction in batteries. AA alkaline batteries are installed in a battery holder and connected to a heater resistor and sensors. The apparatus is suspended in a Dewar flask and the water is stirred gently at 200 rpm. The potential, current, and temperature are measured over a period of 30 minutes. The students use a Current Probe and a Voltage Probe connected to a computer running through a LabQuest Mini to measure the work output of the battery. The waste heat produced is measured calorimetrically using a Stainless Steel Temperature Probe. This activity combines concepts from electricity, electrochemistry, and thermodynamics in one experiment.

Measuring the Force between Magnets as an Analogy for Coulomb’s Law

Samuel P. Hendrix and Stephen G. Prilliman; J. Chem. Educ., 2018, 95, pp 833−836.

The authors describe a simple demonstration to illustrate the relationship between charged particles as described by Coulomb’s law. They use a Dual-Range Force Sensor mounted on a LEGO® platform. The sensor is connected to a computer with a Go!Link and monitored with our free Logger Lite software. A neodymium magnet is attached to the end of a screw. It is installed where the hook or bumper would normally go in the sensor. A second neodymium magnet is mounted to another LEGO® piece that is mounted on the same LEGO® platform. Attractive and repulsive forces can be demonstrated by switching the orientation of one of the magnets. The force between the magnets is plotted as a function of distance using the Events with Entry mode of data collection. This plot represents a Coulomb’s law force between charged particles and would be useful when teaching ionization, bonding, intermolecular forces, lattice energy, and PES (photoelectron spectroscopy).

Using Open-Source, 3D Printable Optical Hardware To Enhance Student Learning in the Instrumental Analysis Laboratory

Eric J. Davis, Michael Jones, D. Alex Thiel, and Steve Paul; J. Chem. Educ., 2018, 95, pp 672−677.

The authors describe the ability to use 3D printing technology to construct analytical instruments. They also discuss how to make the components of an absorbance spectrometer. Various mounts, posts, and slits are printed on a 3D printer are mounted on a platform with lenses and diffraction gratings with light sources and detectors. Even cuvette holders are fabricated. Common full-absorption spectra and Beer’s law plots are done with copper (II) sulfate solution. The results are compared to those from a Go Direct® SpectroVis® Plus Spectrophotometer. The plots of absorbance vs. wavelength and absorbance vs. concentration from the 3D-printed spectrometer compare favorably with those produced by the SpectroVis Plus.

Flexible Experiment Introducing Factorial Experimental Design

Penny Snetsinger and Eid Alkhatib; J. Chem. Educ., 2018, 95, pp 636−640.

The goal of this activity is to provide students with the opportunity to design an experiment that studies the effect of activated carbon on dyes. Students select dyes to study as well as conditions to vary such as pH, salinity, water hardness, and time of contact between the dye and the carbon. The experiment lasts multiple weeks to provide ample time for the students to vary experiment conditions and to analyze their results. Additionally, students use various analytical statistics and techniques to evaluate the outcome of their experiments. They also employ a factorial experiment design that allows them to simultaneously vary more than one variable. They used a Beer-Lambert plot to spectrophotometrically determine the concentration of dye left in the solution after exposure to the activated carbon. Students use a Go Direct® SpectroVis® Plus Spectrophotometer in this experiment.

Physicians as the First Analytical Chemists: Gall Nut Extract Determination of Iron Ion (Fe2+) Concentration

Mary T. van Opstal, Philip Nahlik, Patrick L. Daubenmire, and Alanah Fitch; J. Chem. Educ., 2018, 95, pp 456−462.

This article describes a guided inquiry activity that measures the iron in drinking water, using oak gall nut extract. This activity is geared toward students who are interested in medical careers. The idea is to use a naturally occurring substance to react with the iron ion in a solution and to form a colored solution from which the iron concentration can be determined. The students create standard Beer-Lambert plots of absorbance vs. concentration, then measure the absorbance of the gall-iron solution to determine the concentration of the iron ion. In this experiment students use a Go Direct® SpectroVis® Plus Spectrophotometer.

Measuring Yeast Fermentation Kinetics with a Homemade Water Displacement Volumetric Gasometer

Richard B. Weinberg; J. Chem. Educ., 2018, 95, pp 828−832.

This article describes how to build a volumetric gasometer from simple equipment such as plastic bottles and tubing. The students then use the device to measure the volume of carbon dioxide produced while sugar is metabolized by yeast. As the CO2 is produced the water in one bottle is displaced into a second bottle. The rate of metabolism is measured by timing the amount of water displaced. The activity is appropriate for students from middle school well into college and describes how to use the experiment with different age groups. Some of the inspiration for this activity came from Experiment 12A, “Respiration of Sugars by Yeast” from our Biology with Vernier lab book and “Sugar Metabolism with Yeast” from our lab book Investigating Biology through Inquiry.

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