The probes were purchased by science teacher Jamie Bowman with funds from a Thornapple Area Enrichment Foundation grant. With additional GoDirect sensors added, the data collected is automatically uploaded to the student Chromebooks.
Using a yardstick and some string, students laid out a transact line allowing them to take measurements at set intervals. They were instructed to lay their transact across at least three different surfaces and record a number of readings from each surface.
Students used an area in the back of the middle school where the garden area is located. There, they found cement, bricks, mulch and grass coverings. Each student in the group had a specific task - one collected the data on the Chromebook, another recorded the data on a clipboard, and two others operated the handheld temperature probe and light sensor at specific intervals along the transit.
“Students can collect the data, analyze it and understand what it means,” said Bowman.
It didn’t take long for teams of students to get the hang of using the sensors and probes. Their data collection was directly input onto Chromebooks and the students then created graphs and charts to study the data.
Students made predictions about what they thought would be outcomes and later compared their predictions with the outcomes. They also thought about what might happen in different weather conditions and how that might affect the amount of light and heat on the different surfaces..
“It’s a hands-on, inquiry-based approach to our studies of the ecosystems,” said Bowman. “They can see how different types of ground coverings change how much heat and light there is on the surfaces and how that affects the ecosystem.”
Bowman said it also gives students a chance to study their findings and compare results - not only among their fields measured, but also the results from other teams.
The probes and sensors can be used in a variety of science classes. Bowman also uses the temperature probes for a unit on the solar system and to demonstrate to students how the tilt of the Earth affects the seasons.