Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Do you have Vernier probes at your school?

Last week, I ran a series of workshops (middle school level) on using Vernier probes. The teachers in the 7th and 8th grade workshops were so adventurous and clever in the ideas they came up with on integrating the probeware into their classrooms.

Several teachers were very reflective about making sure the technology use was meaningful for the students. Comments included:

1. Make sure you keep a few probes in your classroom for impromptu experimentation and demonstrations. This will encourage you to use the probes frequently in a way that keeping them in a supply closet down the hall cannot.

2. Frequent use of the probes and LoggerPro software reduces the "wow" factor of the technology. This is a good thing. It allows the students to see past the hardware and into the content that you are trying to convey to them.

3. Frequent use also encourages the students to think about how they might use the probeware in their own, student-directed experiments. This is the key to effectively using probe technology to help the students develop 21st century skills. For example, one of the teachers in the training offered this advice:

"I always say to my students, 'Pretend there is a Vernier probe to measure anything you want to measure. Then, invent your experiment. After your experiment is invented, ask me if we have a probe that will do that.' This way, their problem solving is not limited by what they don't know about the available probes." --Middle School Science Teacher

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