swim, chem, baseball, I talk with my hands
The upcoming amusement park trip is the perfect opportunity to try out the digital data collection devices current owned by the school. While I have been reluctant to have students take these to the park in the past (mostly because I am nervous about lending these materials!), I am ready to experiment more this year. So what are we talking about here?
To start, the students in this course have been well-trained on the use of data collection devices. Specifically, they have used the “Xplorer GLX” model made by Pasco Scientific. While they don’t have the slick interface that some many devices have now (think: iPhone), they have all of the capabilities needed to change classroom laboratories into relevant experiences, modeling those needed for true science education. The model has two basic parts: the GLX and the sensors. First, the device itself (GLX) is a very versatile machine and can interpret information from any of the sensors that connect to its data ports. The sensors can measure any number of quantities: force, distance, voltage, temperature are examples of this. With the data displayed on the screen in numeric or graphic forms, the students have different options for accessing the meaning of the data.
In thinking about the amusement park assignment there are a few ways in which this could be deployed. The sensor that might be the most useful is the motion sensor. It can display a distance as well as velocity and acceleration quickly and readily on the screen. For students wishing to get a read on these quantities this might be the easiest way. The one caveat is that it has a very limited range and any motion that is more than a couple of meters away would not be read at all. Still, within this distance it might be much easier than trying another method.
The next sensor that could be deployed is the acceleration sensor, which tracks acceleration in the x, y, and z planes as it moves. While this might have been the best way to get this information 10 years ago, they are almost a footnote given that the iPhone has one built into the hardware. Now all a student has to do is download an app that does the same thing.
Other sensors? I will have to ask my students what they think – are any of the other sensors potentially useful in this assignment?