Science specialist PASCO was at BETT 2013 with a range that has now grown to 70 sensors for capturing data in experiments. Usually you want to get information from just a couple of sensors and this is the role of the new unit called the SPARKlink Air. Plug any two of those two sensors into the SPARKlink Air, and it will send their readings to software running on the computer. What’s unusual here is that this one unit can send data to any computer and that includes Mac, Windows, and Android and Apple IOS devices.
The SPARKlink Air (£tba) has both USB and Bluetooth connections which you can use flexibly. The unit works round a common school lab issue, which is that it is a challenge to support a mix of computing devices in one lesson. Helping to provide consistency is the very well featured SPARKvue software – which runs in the same way on each those computing devices. Thus, even on a phone you can measure; display graphs; analyse data; write lab reports and even find loads of ready-to-run lab activities. This unifying ability of the SPARK system, where your class may use different devices in similar ways deserves applause. You can peek at the program on the app store; or download a trial of the desktop software from PASCO. To obtain PASCO equipment in the UK, contact Scientific and Chemical Supplies.
Briefly, I’ll also mention that LEGO Education have the new Mindstorms EV3, which is used as the programmable ‘brain’ of any robot, on its stand (see “Construction or constructivist? The power of LEGO”). Among the range of devices you could build for yourself, I was drop-jawed at a device that, like a ‘Segway’, was balancing itself magically upright on just two wheels. In five minutes, I engaged with more science, maths and technology than I’ve ever picked up in a curriculum document.