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Teachers Pushing Data Collection Take Science Prizes

Just as changes in science education in the K-12 segment are getting a makeover with the formal introduction of the Next Generation Science Standards, which puts an emphasis on students' abilities to understand how science is practiced in the real world, a group of educators is being recognized for their innovative use of data collection in the classroom. Two middle school teachers and four high school teachers will be recognized later this week as recipients of the 2013 Vernier/National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) awards during the annual NSTA conference. Each winner receives $1,000 in cash, $3,000 in Vernier products, and up to $1,500 to attend the conference, which is being held this year in San Antonio.

Vernier provides a number of products for the classroom to allow students to collect, analyze, and interpret scientific data. Each of the award winners currently uses or could use tools from Vernier.

Students in Christine Herald's class at Eisenhower Middle School in Manhattan, KS use sensors on Easy Bake Oven cake mixes to learn about chemical reactions. Herald said she intends to add light sensors and temperature probes from Vernier for new forms of investigations.

Kristy Schneider's engineering students at La Center Middle School in Washington state work with a scientist to build and control remotely operated vehicles for underwater work. These learners are monitoring and studying nitrate levels as well as conducting water quality tests at local wetlands using sensors and LabQuest 2 data interface devices with their vehicles.

A class at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in California has been challenged by teacher Cara Hale Hanes to design a buffering system that allows water to be made potable. Students use Vernier pH sensors and LabQuest to test the buffering capacities of their various chemical compositions.

Darrell Coston's chemistry students at Goldsboro High School in North Carolina are using sensors to understand the use of ultraviolet radiation and its effects on cellular growth.

Students in Crystal Sengstaken's biology and disease class at The Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles are using the Vernier EKG sensor to experiment with muscle function and neuromuscular reflexes.

Likewise, students in Katherine Schenkelberg's muscular system class at West High School in Torrance, CA are performing labs using the company's EKG sensor and hand dynamometer to explore the electrical impulses of muscles.

"The use of data-collection technology in the classroom helps foster students' interest in [science, technology, engineering, and math] education and provides them with engaging, hands-on opportunities for scientific investigation," said David Vernier, co-founder of Vernier and a former physics teacher. "For 10 years Vernier and NSTA have recognized innovative STEM educators through this award, and this year's winners are no exception--their projects and programs truly utilize the power of data-collection technology as part of the teaching and learning process."

Teachers interested in applying for the 2014 award have until November 30, 2013 to submit their application.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.