PASCO Software

PASCO offers two applications to facilitate data collection, display, and analysis. Here are a few questions to consider to help you make the right choice.

1) What computing platforms are in your lab?
If students mainly use phones, tablets, or Chromebooks – then SPARKvue is for you. Capstone can only run on PC/Mac.

2) Do you require advanced data analysis tools, video analysis, use the 850 interface, or want to open DataStudio workbooks?
Assuming you have PC/Mac computers in your lab – Capstone is for you.

Here is a detailed breakdown of the capabilities in each software. More specifications are also available on the product pages.


SPARKvue® is our easy-to-use, cross platform solution. SPARKvue is intuitive but it also has powerful analysis tools that are there when you need them. SPARKvue is for all sciences and grade levels and focuses on ease of use for common data collection and analysis tasks.

  • Works on all major platforms - Windows & Mac computers, Chromebooks, iPads & iPhones, and Android tablets and phones.
  • An intuitive user interface makes it easy to get started.
  • Touch screen compatible.
  • Includes access to over 80 free, media-rich interactive SPARKlab® activities for Elementary & Middle School Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Physical Science, and Physics.
  • Student assessment is built in, and the journaling feature captures student data, notes, and responses.
  • Features data-sharing, so students in the classroom have the exact same experience as distance learners.

PASCO Capstone

PASCO Capstone™ has more powerful, advanced analysis tools and customization options, which means a slightly steeper learning curve but greater flexibility for those who need the extra tools. We recommend Capstone for advanced users, especially those in physics or engineering disciplines. DataStudio users will also find Capstone more familiar; in fact, you can open your DataStudio workbooks in Capstone.

  • Only works with Mac or Windows computers. System requirements are on the product page.
  • Built from the ground up to be the premier software for use in advanced physics and engineering applications.
  • Includes a higher degree of user controls, including start/stop conditions, error bars, and the ability to exclude or delete data points.
  • Is customizable with a deep feature set, which gives you the flexibility and tools to design your own experiments and tightly control the students’ experience.
  • Includes access to over 50 free experiment files for physics labs using PASCO equipment.
  • Allows users to create custom tables, enter user data, copy and paste equations, and generate calculations quickly.
  • Video capture allow users to record video synced to sensor data.. Video analysis allows users to extract motion data from video alone.
Comparison of Features SPARKvue PASCO Capstone
iOS/iPad®/iPhone® Chromebook™ Android™ phone or tablets
Free app available on the App Store, Google Play, or Chrome Web Store

Data sharing
Free experiments available for download
Export data
Student journaling
Number of curve fits 10 24
Area under the curve
Prediction tool
Custom configure workspace
Min, max, mean, standard deviation
Oscilloscope display 1
Signal generator controls 1
Video analysis
Error bars
FFT Display 2
Open Datastudio files
1 When paired with the 550 Universal Interface.
2 FFT functionality introduced with SPARKvue version 2.7.0. FFT analysis for SPARKvue supports onboard microphone use with Windows and Android. Otherwise the CI-6506B Sound Sensor can be used with the 550 Universal Interface. Additionally, FFT can be used with the wireless Voltage and Current sensors connected via USB.

So which software do we recommend for high school physics?

Either SPARKvue or Capstone can be good choices for high school physics. For schools using iPad®, Chromebook™, or Android™ tablets, SPARKvue is the answer. It may also make sense if a single software solution is desired and SPARKvue is being used in other subjects in your school.

For schools upgrading from DataStudio, Capstone is the choice. Or if video analysis is important, then Capstone is the way to go. In general, for physics labs using computers, it is hard to beat the power and flexibility of Capstone.

Additional Resources

If you have additional questions regarding our equipment or software, contact PASCO Technical Support. We're here to help.