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Top 10 Lab Experiments for This School Year

By Gary Myers, Director of District Outreach

When it comes to bringing data collection to the classroom, knowing where to start can be tricky. The team at Vernier Software & Technology compiled a list of our favorite experiments from our lab books—from elementary school science to college-level experiments—to point you in the right direction.

  1. Conductivity of Solutions: The Effect of Concentration
    Grade Level: High school and college students

    In this experiment, students study the effect of increasing the concentration of an ionic compound on conductivity. During the experiment, students use a Conductivity Probe or Go Direct® Conductivity Probe to measure the conductivity of solutions, investigate the relationship between the conductivity and concentration of a solution, and investigate the conductivity of solutions resulting from compounds that dissociate to produce different numbers of ions. A video demonstrating how to conduct this experiment is available here.

  2. Acid-Base Titration
    Grade Level: High school and college students

    In this experiment, students titrate a hydrochloric acid solution with a sodium hydroxide solution using a Go Direct® Drop Counter in the process. They then use a pH sensor to monitor changes in pH as the sodium hydroxide solution is added to a hydrochloric acid solution and plot a graph of pH vs. volume. Students then use the graph to determine the equivalence point of the titration and use these results to calculate the concentration of the hydrochloric acid solution. A short video demonstrating how to conduct an acid base titration using Vernier technology is available here.

  3. Momentum, Energy and Collisions
    Grade Level: High school and college students

    Using the Dynamics Cart and Track System with Motion Encoder or Dynamics Cart and Track System with Go Direct® Sensor Cart, students observe collisions between two carts and test for the conservation of momentum. They also measure energy changes during different types of collisions and classify collisions as elastic, inelastic, or completely inelastic. Advanced versions of these experiments can be found in Advanced Physics with Vernier — Mechanics (experiment #1, #10 and #11). This video demonstrates how to use for physics investigations.

  4. Centripetal Accelerations on a Turntable
    Grade Level: High school and college students

    Using either a Low-g Accelerometer or Go Direct® Acceleration Sensor, students measure the centripetal acceleration on a record turntable. They also determine the relationship between centripetal acceleration, radius, and angular velocity, as well as determine the direction of centripetal acceleration.

    This is experiment #20 in Physics with Vernier, but if you are looking for an added component, check this out. A Pennsylvania educator used a 25-g Accelerometer and a K’NEX® rollercoaster to test crash dummies!

  5. Monitoring EKG
    Grade Level: High school and college students

    Using a EKG Sensor or Go Direct® EKG Sensor, this experiment enables students to graph their heart’s electrical activity, determine the time interval between EKG events, and calculate heart rate based on their EKG recording.

    This is experiment #28 in Biology with Vernier. Educators looking for other opportunities to use the Go Direct® EKG Sensor can refer to experiments #12, #13, and #15 in Human Physiology with Vernier. Watch how to use Go Direct® EKG Sensor to monitor both EKG and EMG.

  6. Get a Grip!
    Grade Level: Elementary school students

    Using a Gas Pressure Sensor, elementary students measure their grip strength, including which hand has the greater grip strength, as well as learning what happens to their grip strength as time passes. This video demonstrates how to test grip strength with a Go Direct® Gas Pressure Sensor.

  7. Exploring Wind Turbines
    Grade Level: High school students

    Students build their own functioning wind turbine with Vernier Energy Sensor and a KidWind by Vernier experiment kit. During the experiment, students explore how wind turbines turn, predict variables that affect how fast a wind turbine turns, and investigate the effect of fan speed on the power output of a wind turbine. This video provides an overview of the activity using a Go Direct® Energy Sensor.

  8. Enzyme Action: Testing Catalase Activity
    Grade Level: High school and college students

    Using a O2 Gas Sensor or Go Direct® O2 Gas Sensor , students measure the production of oxygen gas as hydrogen peroxide is destroyed by the enzyme catalase or peroxidase at various enzyme concentrations, temperatures, and pH values. Similar experiments are also featured in the Advanced Biology with Vernier and Investigating Biology through Inquiry lab books.

  9. Mapping a Magnetic Field
    Grade Level: Middle school students

    Using a Magnetic Field Sensor or Go Direct® 3-Axis Magnetic Field Sensor, students measure and graph magnetic field strength at points along a bar magnet and analyze the data to make conclusions about the magnetic field at various points on a bar magnet.

    A version of this experiment for elementary students can be found in Earth Science with Vernier (experiment #36) while a more advanced version of this experiment can be found in Physical Science with Vernier (experiment #27). Watch a video demonstration of how to use Go Direct® 3-Axis Magnetic Field Sensor here.

  10. Graphing Your Motion
    Grade Level: High school and K–8 students

    Using a Go Direct® Motion Detector or Motion Detector, students study their own motion, as well as measure position, velocity, and acceleration. Students then produce graphs of their motion and analyze and interpret the graphs. A video demonstrating how to use the Go Direct® Motion Detector is available here.

While these are some of our favorite experiments from our lab books, we love hearing about new, innovative lessons and projects using Vernier technology. If you are planning something cool for this school year, let us know at innovativeuses@vernier.com

Graphical Analysis 4 is Ready for Physics—and Chemistry and Biology

Cart on ramp graphs with Go Direct Sensor Cart

Graphical Analysis 4 app keeps getting better. New in the last several releases is support for photogates, which means you can now use your Vernier photogates with a Chromebook. The much-requested photogate feature is part of a project to give physics instructors more tools in our free Graphical Analysis app, including support for the Motion Encoder Cart, Rotary Motion Sensors (Go Direct® Rotary Motion Sensor and Rotary Motion Sensor versions), the Projectile Launcher, and the novel new Go Direct® Sound Sensor, which combines waveform and sound intensity measurements.

In addition, with new tablet versions now available, Graphical Analysis has the same core feature set and appearance on Windows®, macOS®, ChromeOS, Android, and iOS. You can have a mixed set of devices in a classroom, and everyone can do a full spectrum of experiments, regardless of device. Procedures learned on one platform work everywhere. Files saved on one device can be opened on another, even if it is a different platform. Because device screen sizes vary widely, there is now an option to increase the size of text and other labels so that graphs are more readable on large screens.

Support for Graphical Analysis for physics is included in the 4th edition of Physics with Vernier, which has versions of activities written for students using Graphical Analysis on any platform. Experiments written for Graphical Analysis are also included with the 4th editions of Chemistry with Vernier and Biology with Vernier.

Our largest software development team is working on Graphical Analysis 4. New versions are released every few months, so keep looking for new features and tools. We have great plans for the rest of the school year to keep instructors and students in all disciplines engaged in doing science. This most recent push emphasized features of particular use to physics students. Prior releases have focused on chemistry and biology. If you have not tried Graphical Analysis recently, we think you’ll find that it has grown to be a useful tool for the most common experiments in these fields and more.

Graphical Analysis 4 works with our Go Direct sensors on all platforms and with most of our wired LabQuest sensors. As a result, making the jump from computer to Chromebook has become much easier. Best of all, Graphical Analysis 4 is free.

The Vernier Advantage for College Chemistry

Vernier Go Direct sensors for college chemistry

Whether you are teaching general or upper-level college chemistry courses, our affordable sensors and instrumentation make it possible for every student to participate in hands-on learning. Our combination of sensors, software, college-level experiments, and instructional resources engage students and instructors in scientific discovery. We have assembled a collection of products and experiments for commonly taught college chemistry courses.

  • General Chemistry: Complete an acid-base titration with our pH probes that have 0.1 pH unit accuracy and a drop counter that accurately converts drops to volume.
  • Organic Chemistry: Measure and analyze the GC retention times of a Fischer esterification reaction mixture using the Mini GC Plus Gas Chromatograph with room air as the carrier gas.
  • Biochemistry: The Vernier UV-VIS Spectrophotometer can be used to measure the 260/280 nm ratio when purifying proteins and DNA. Its range, 220 nm to 850 nm and 3 nm optical resolution, makes it ideal for biological applications.
  • Analytical Chemistry: Investigate redox reactions with a potentiometric titration using an ORP (oxidation-reduction potential) sensor.
  • Physical Chemistry: Explore excited-state dynamics with one of our free experiments that walks students through the heavy-atom quenching of quinine fluorescence using the Vernier Fluorescence/UV-VIS Spectrophotometer.

At Vernier, we believe that the use of our sensors and lab equipment should serve to enhance your teaching, not get in your way. Take a look at Periodic Elements—our college chemistry blog where our chemists share their knowledge and ideas. Sign up for Periodic Elements and find a full list of recommendations for college chemistry.

Why Teach Coding in the Classroom?

You don’t have to spend much time on education websites, blogs, or social media before you run into the term coding. Why is coding, or computer programming, getting so much attention right now? Coding engages students in new ways, providing practical applications for math and science skills.

The act of coding—an iterative process of building, testing, and refining a program—parallels the scientific method in many respects. Students must construct detailed models, plan carefully, anticipate sources of error, analyze data, and document their work. Additionally, many programming projects require the application of specific science knowledge, such as understanding the motion of a uniformly accelerating object, in order to successfully accomplish a task.

Vernier offers a number of resources to support coding in the classroom:

Programmable robots, such as mBot and Ranger from Makeblock®, are a great, hands-on way to introduce coding to students because robots take abstract code from the screen and translate it into actions in the real world. The newest member of the Makeblock family of robots is Codey Rocky, perfect for elementary- and middle-school students who are new to coding. Codey Rocky is actually two electronic modules: Codey, a detachable controller that includes 10 sensors and an LED matrix, and Rocky, a mobile base that can carry Codey across the classroom. Codey Rocky does not require any construction and can be programmed through a free app on computers, tablets, or smartphones.

If you’ve been tasked with leading an after-school robotics club, are thinking about incorporating some coding into your science class, or even been asked to teach computer science, see what Vernier has to offer.

Our CEO Celebrates His 25th Anniversary at Vernier

John Wheeler, our CEO, first worked for Vernier as a consultant. For his first project he designed a photogate timing device, for which we paid him with one Macintosh computer. In 1993, he became a full-time employee, when we had fewer than 10 employees. John handled our parts purchasing, but he also continued to design products. Over the years, John has designed the Serial Box Interface, the LabPro interface, LabQuest, LabQuest 2, and most of our sensors. In 2015, he took on the overall leadership role at Vernier.

“It has been a fantastic experience growing up with this remarkable company,” John explains. “The world was certainly different when I started with Vernier—there was no such thing as social media or reality television. The internet was largely navigated using dial-up modems, cryptic command-line instructions, and specific utility apps. It was a super small company back then, and I was the purchasing, receiving, and engineering department in those days.”

“While we have grown significantly since then, the amazing thing is that we have been able to grow and keep our company culture. David and Christine Vernier started something really special and have nurtured it for 37 years to get to where we are now. We have kept our company values, and we continue to serve educators and impact student learning. I couldn’t be more proud to be part of the work we do here and to work alongside such wonderful people. I am lucky to have been a part of this amazing journey for so long, and I look forward to the coming great things that we will accomplish.”

Learn more about our company story and culture »

Olympic Gold Medal Experiment

Animated GIF of gold medal being dipped.

Jessie Diggins, who won a gold medal in the recent Winter Olympics, allowed Pivot Interactives to use the medal in a version of the Archimedes experiment. A new activity challenges students to identify the real gold medal from an inexpensive copy and to determine if an Olympic gold medal is actually made of gold. Give it a try here.

Go Direct® Sensors Can Be Used with LabQuest® 2!

Photo of students using LabQuest 2 and Go Direct Light and Color in a baseball field.

You already know that Go Direct sensors are the most versatile sensors around—they can be used via USB or Bluetooth® wireless technology on Chromebooks, computers, iOS®, and Android devices. But did you know that they can now be used with LabQuest 2?

Imagine studying motion with Go Direct Sensor Carts, testing acids and bases with Go Direct pH, or wading into a stream with the Go Direct Optical Dissolved Oxygen Probe, all without wires. You can even mix and match Go Direct sensors and LabQuest sensors on LabQuest 2 for maximum flexibility. Just update your LabQuest App to version 2.8.3 or newer, and your students can connect Go Direct sensors wirelessly or by USB. (Some older LabQuest 2 interfaces require additional hardware to communicate with Go Direct sensors wirelessly.)

NSTA Blog Reviews Go Direct® Respiration Belt

Go Direct® Respiration Belt

NSTA Recommends’ Edwin Christmann recently reviewed the Go Direct® Respiration Belt. In his review, Edwin demonstrates using the Go Direct® Respiration Belt during different exercises, including boxing, jumping rope, and weight lifting. He also provides screenshots of the free graphing and analysis software, Graphical Analysis 4, to showcase his results.

In the review, Edwin says:

“After reviewing the Go Direct® Respiration Belt, we found that its user-friendly data-collection capabilities have many practical uses both in and outside of the classroom. Moreover, the included rechargeable battery is reliable and offers long battery life for experiments.”

He concluded by saying:

“The Go Direct® Respiration Belt is reasonably priced and connects directly to mobile devices. Without doubt, we found it to be a great tool for science and mathematics students to become active and motivated learners. Hence, the Go Direct® Respiration Belt is highly recommended for classroom use!”

The complete Go Direct family of sensors offers teachers and students the versatility to collect scientific data both wirelessly or via a USB connection. These sensors can be used in more than 300 teacher-tested experiments developed by Vernier.

Read more about the Go Direct Respiration Belt on NSTA Recommends »

LabQuest 2.8.4 Update

We’re pleased to release the latest update for LabQuest 2. The version 2.8.4 update is free and recommended for all LabQuest users.

Download LabQuest 2.8.4 Update »

Vernier Software & Technology’s Go Direct® Sound Sensor Wins Best of Show Award

Tech & Learning Best of Show Award 2018

Vernier Software & Technology won the Tech & Learning Best of Show Award for the new Sensor at the 2018 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference last month. The judges recognized Vernier Software & Technology’s newest addition to the Go Direct family of sensors for being an impactful, effective learning tool that will be beneficial for students in the classroom.

Vernier sensors are rugged and provide consistent, high-quality results for the demands of student instruction. Students will enjoy the opportunity to take Go Direct® Sound Sensor outside to discover sounds in their natural environment.

Go Direct® Sound Sensor:

  • Allows students to capture and evaluate waveforms
  • Helps students measure wave amplitude and sound intensity level at the same time to investigate the decibel scale
  • Includes both wired or wireless options
Read more about the Go Direct Sound Sensor »
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