PASCO Blog - Tips, Ideas and Applications Blog

Outdoor Explorations in Photosynthesis and Respiration

January 9, 2019

High School teacher Bruce Taterka explains how students can use the Wireless CO2 Sensor to explore the effects of photosynthesis and respiration in their local environment. Instructions are also provided to make your own "Pretzel Barrel CO2 Chamber". Read More

The View from a Small Town Physics Classroom

October 15, 2018

Veteran teacher Glenn Grant discusses how the SPARK LX Datalogger and preloaded software such as MatchGraph has increased student engagement and allowed for more actual science... Read More

Seven Things to Do with Wireless CO2

August 28, 2018

Being able to directly measure carbon dioxide levels opens up a world of possible lab activities. Here are seven activities that feature our easy-to-use and affordable Wireless CO2 Sensor. Read More

Stoked About Stoich

August 2, 2018

If there's one thing virtually all chemistry teachers can agree on, it's that stoichiometry is a difficult topic for students. Hands-on inquiry using household chemicals and a Wireless Pressure Sensor is a great way for students to gain a real understanding of the concepts of balancing equations, limiting reactants and more. Read More

GLOBE Learning Experience 2018

July 24, 2018

Every 4yrs GLOBE hosts their annual conference outside the USA and this year we trekked to Killarney, Ireland to work with GLOBE coordinators, teachers, and students from all over the world ... Read More

Going Wireless: Shifting Augustana's First-years Labs

July 10, 2018

The Augustana Campus chemistry labs have traditionally been perfectly acceptable, but have yielded somewhat standard chemistry experiments with very typical analysis. Recently, things have changed. We have fundamentally changed our first-year chemistry lab experiments, which mean that different analyzation techniques are needed ... Read More

Water Purification

May 30, 2018

Water is a precious resource, but not all water is potable and ready for consumption. Since water is a “the universal solvent,” it can dissolve many substances. Luckily, the physical and chemical properties of water and the solutes allow for purification if the water has been polluted ... Read More

What’s YOUR weather like today …

April 13, 2018

Students are familiar with the concept of weather – they likely use an app to see what it’s going to be like every morning to decide what to wear. But do they know the difference between weather and climate? How can we help them ... Read More

Measuring Headwinds and GPS Speed with PASCO’s New Wireless Weather Sensor

March 19, 2018

PASCO’s new Wireless Weather Sensor with GPS provides for some obvious investigations such as monitoring changes in weather. However, as this sensor measures 17 different ... Read More

Help Students ♥ Chemical Changes

February 12, 2018

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, the chemical changes observed most often are due to a little love in the air. Struggling to get your students to focus on real chemical reactions? “Wack-A-Pack” self-inflating balloons can ... Read More

Poinsettia pH paper

December 11, 2017

The winter season is almost upon us. That means thoughts of holidays, hot chocolate, and Poinsettias. In chemistry class, you can use Poinsettias to introduce the concept of pH. Whether you are studying acids and bases, or simply looking at chemical ... Read More

Physical And Chemical Changes

December 5, 2017

You want an argument, bring some evidence!

What do students look for when they are trying to distinguish a physical change from a chemical change?Sure, things like a change in temperature, color, or the formation of bubbles are typical ... Read More

Enzyme Data-palooza

October 11, 2017

Many biology courses at every level start the year studying enzymes, since they are integral to so many biological processes. No matter what your preferred enzyme and substrate, sensors can help you get more data, and ... Read More

Ocean Acidification

October 11, 2017

Ocean acidification is a byproduct of increasing atmospheric CO2 levels around the globe, which is also causing climate changes. This global phenomenon can be difficult conceptually for students, but it is easy to model using ... Read More

Leaf Absorption Spectra

October 11, 2017

Fall is the perfect time of year for you and your students to investigate plant pigments. If the curriculum sequence doesn’t fit, you can always squirrel away some data for later! PASCO’s Read More

Back to School 2017-2018 Biology Edition

October 5, 2017

Tips for taking care of your PASCO sensors, free lab activities, a chance to submit your own lab ideas and enter to win a bundle of biology sensors, free online trainings and more. We've put together a number of useful resources to help you this ... Read More

Modeling Conservation and Change

October 4, 2017

Baking soda and vinegar create a classic chemical reaction. Bubbling volcanoes and gushing fountains made with simple household items— crowd favorites. Everyone loves ... Read More

Mole Day

October 2, 2017

It’s that time of year again. Chemistry teachers everywhere are dusting of their pun-ny jokes and creating mole-themed, activities and treats to celebrate National Mole Day in commemoration of Avogadro’s number (6.02 x 1023). ... Read More

Back to school? Recharge and Update your wireless sensors!

July 17, 2017

Don't miss out on free software and firmware updates.

PASCO Wireless Sensors often gain additional value over time with new functionality and increased performance. These benefits are ... Read More

Angling for More Solar Power

March 21, 2017

Have your students ever wondered why solar panels on a row of houses all face the same direction? If you approach the topic from the right angle with the right stuff you can easily create a hands-on investigation. That’s right, no waiting, ... Read More

What is pH? Test the Rainbow

March 2, 2017

Students often struggle understanding pH. While we can tell them that it is a logarithmic function, students are more likely to associate “logs” with a calculator button or a piece of wood. So how do we get them to understand what the pH ... Read More

Enzyme Activity in AP Biology

December 19, 2016

Catalyze student learning in AP*® Biology through an investigation of enzyme activity. By using a PASCO Wireless Spectrometer ... Read More

The Reason for Seasons

December 13, 2016

Trees are shedding their leaves and the days are getting shorter (in the northern hemisphere), so it’s the perfect time for students explore the reason for the seasons. Students often have the misconception that the distance from the sun is ... Read More

Concentrate on the Conductivity

December 9, 2016

Students have a hard time concentrating when the topic is solution concentration. The solution may be having them create their own ... Read More

A Watershed Moment

October 3, 2016

Watersheds are an important natural feature. Whether they realize it or not, most people live near a watershed. In this activity, students can build a model watershed and observe the impact of upstream ... Read More

Popsicle Phase Change

July 27, 2016

Phase changes are an important part of chemistry and physical science curriculum — and Freeze Pops are an important part of everyone’s summer. What better way to take the edge off the summer heat than combining the two to make a ... Read More

An Amped up Electricity Lab

May 30, 2016

Looking for a fun way to to spark your students interest in electrochemistry while they continue to build their engineering skills? Let them engineer a battery to light up an LED! With some simple materials, they can wind their way through a ... Read More

Introduction to GPS-eometry

April 21, 2016

With the advent of GPS, folded maps have become obsolete. With that advancement, unfortunately, students are less likely to understand the significance of latitude and longitude. But with geo-tagging becoming increasingly popular, helping students ... Read More

Transpiration with a Potometer

April 15, 2016

Transpiration is an important concept in both biology and environmental science, especially in terms of role it plays in the water cycle. As water evaporates from the stoma of leaves water is pulled up (due to hydrogen bonding) through the xylem ... Read More

Titrations are pHun

April 15, 2016

Properties of acids, bases and the pH scale are core concepts in any chemistry class. After your students understand the basics, it is important for them to be able to quantify reactions involving acids and bases with a ... Read More

Temperature misconceptions? Shake it off.

April 14, 2016

Most students understand that things get warmer as temperature goes up, but it is in the science lab that we have an opportunity to really help them understand what temperature means. One of the core ideas in Physical Science is that temperature is ... Read More

pH Imbalance - Getting to the Root of the Problem

March 8, 2016

Science is more meaningful and engaging when students have the opportunity to explore the world around them. And it is more meaningful still when students are empowered with the tools to collect and analyze data just like real scientists do, ... Read More

Chemistry in a Cuppa

January 22, 2016

Every January educators from across the UK gather for the Bett conference to learn about innovative ways to use technology in education. This year this lucky chemist had the opportunity to travel across the pond to London to participate and ... Read More

Working for a Winter Wonderland

January 18, 2016

Instant snow is a fun substance for kids of all ages and a great tool for engaging young scientists in physical science concepts related to matter and its interactions. And the new Wireless Temperature Sensor helps to make it a quantitative one as ... Read More

Under Pressure - Wireless sensor inside a balloon!

January 12, 2016

When introducing pressure and gas laws, I have always used balloons as a conceptual starting point because they are a familiar item to students. Unfortunately, I could not easily measure the actual pressure inside of the balloon— until now. ... Read More

An Open Bottle for Inquiry on New Year's

December 31, 2015

It’s New Year’s Eve, and with any luck, soon the music and Champagne bottles will be poppin’. Not only it is an opportunity to raise a glass in toast, it is also raises an interesting science ... Read More

Star Wars Biomes

December 16, 2015

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Luke, Han and Yoda explored planets with alien societies and life forms. We’re restricted to exploring Earth (for now), but we are lucky to inhabit a planet that is full of diversity. And ... Read More

May the Force Sensor Be With You

December 16, 2015

The Force Sensor Awakens! With the release of the newest Star Wars film you can channel your own Jedi powers and awaken your students’ interest by studying the Force— or at least forces. As Obi Wan says, forces are all around us, and ... Read More

Light(saber) Emission Spectroscopy

December 15, 2015

Lightsabers are not only the weapons of choice of Jedi Knights and those that have fallen to the dark side of the Force, they can also be great tools to introduce emission spectroscopy and atomic theory to the Padawans in your chemistry ... Read More

Impulse Control - Studying Collisions

December 7, 2015

The unit on impulse and momentum is always a fun one to teach since it involves memorable demonstrations— like throwing an egg at a bed sheet. It also has great applications to driving safety, something that can never be reinforced too often ... Read More

Coins, Squishy Circuits and SPARKs!

December 1, 2015

Bring STEM into your classroom with this activity and watch your students light up with ... Read More

Inflate their knowledge of Gas Laws

November 30, 2015

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons an annual US holiday tradition, but not all spectators realize that they are also a great example of science and engineering at work. You can use these multi-storied helium-filled cartoon characters as a ... Read More

Watershed Studies: Oh-no! Where's my DO?

November 20, 2015

Earth disturbances are fairly common in areas with construction or mining, but what exactly is the impact of this type of disturbance? And how can you show your students about the chemical changes that are taking place and the resulting impact on ... Read More

Mechanical Bull Riding

November 18, 2015

We had a great time at CAST in Fort Worth, Texas last week. We had some fantastic BBQ and Tex Mex, but to really experience the cowboy scientist’s lifestyle we decided to investigate Forces and ... Read More

Tricks with Treats— Halloween Science

October 19, 2015

Students always get excited as Halloween approaches. The thrill of collecting treats is real, but as teachers, how can we take a pile of sugar and turn it into a lesson? A really great science teacher trick is to use some of the kids’ treats ... Read More

Trick or titrate!

October 16, 2015

Your students may have outgrown getting dressed up to go trick-or-treating, but they haven’t yet outgrown the desire to collect and consume as much candy as possible. So what can you do to help them avoid a belly ache and put that candy to ... Read More

From Russia with Science!

September 23, 2015

Every winter many parts of the world are covered with snow, and when that snow melts off, you see bits of green start to appear. But how does non-point source pollution impact the growth of some of that greenery? Mr. Aleksey Vasilevich, a teacher at ... Read More

The Solar Spectrum

September 23, 2015

One great way to kick off the school year is with some fun and creative lessons that make students think about the science that’s all around them. And why not take advantage of the weather and conduct an outdoor lab? One of my favorite ... Read More

Planting the Seeds of Science with School Gardens

September 15, 2015

School gardens are sprouting up all over the place. Planting and cultivating a school garden is much more than an engaging outdoor activity. It can also provide meaningful context to students’ academic endeavors and be correlated to standards ... Read More

Heat Up Your Lab with This Cool Activity

August 31, 2015

It’s back-to-school time, so start off the year by engaging in a cool(ing) activity during the final dog days of ... Read More

Measuring Our Way Through the Streets of Philadelphia

July 6, 2015

What better way to spend the days leading up to the U.S. Independence Day than to do some data-logging throughout the city where our government was born? As host of the 2015 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference, ... Read More

Tie Dye Inquiry: Engineering More Vibrant Colors

May 20, 2015

Congratulations— you and your students have almost made it through another school year! There’s still time for some hands-on labs and now, more than ever, is the time to tie in some fun with your ... Read More

Engineering Bumpers and NGSS

May 1, 2015

Looking for an activity to incorporate NGSS standards and engineering ... Read More

Earth Day and Water Conservation

April 22, 2015

California is in the grips of a major drought, as 2015 is on track to be driest year since record-keeping began in 1895! The drought has brought water conservation and water quality issues to the forefront of many Californians' daily lives, as ... Read More

Mile High Experimenting

March 31, 2015

This spring’s ACS meeting was miles above the rest— or at least one mile above most others since it was hosted in Denver, CO. While we were in the Mile High City, we decided to do a mile high experiment— but in our case, we were ... Read More

Starlight and Distance

March 25, 2015

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are shifting science education in an exciting direction. Students are presented with intriguing performance expectations that foster the development of science and engineering practices. These performance ... Read More

Modeling Biological Oxygen Demand

March 25, 2015

Biological oxygen demand (BOD) relates to the change in oxygen that occurs in bodies of water as a result of microorganisms taking in and using dissolved oxygen as they decompose organic matter. These decomposers utilize oxygen in the same way that ... Read More

St. Patrick's Day - Green River Spectrometry

March 17, 2015

Talk about luck of the Irish! NSTA 2015 in Chicago happened to coincide with the city's St. Patrick's Day festivities and the greening of the Chicago ... Read More

Sunlight Intensity and the Albedo Effect

February 13, 2015

In the environment, light intensity and temperature are related. However, due to the reflective properties of different surfaces on the Earth (called the albedo effect), the degree that light intensity and temperature are related varies. ... Read More

Exploring Physiology with SPARKvue® on the iPhone®

February 13, 2015

PASCO’s intuitive SPARKvue software is now available for phones, making it even more convenient for your students to explore the world around ... Read More

“Like Dissolves Like,” But How Much?

February 3, 2015

After introducing the concept of “like dissolves like,” sensors can be used to quantify how much solute is dissolved in a ... Read More

Forces of Attraction

February 3, 2015

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and attractive forces are on everyone’s mind. In science, a general rule is “opposites attract.” In solution chemistry, there is another saying, “like dissolves ... Read More

Impulse of a Rocket Engine – Area Under a Force Curve

December 11, 2014

Thrust curves for model rocket engines are a great way to explore impulse. While every student has everyday experiences with impulses, they are less familiar with the mathematical concept and resulting units of N’s. Analyzing force curves ... Read More

Jack-O'-Lantern Inquiry

October 20, 2014

Fall is a great time of year to study the nutrient cycle. And with many of your students carving pumpkins, there will be no shortage of materials to observe. All you will need to start are a few pumpkins, cameras, CO2 and temperature ... Read More

Don't Be Afraid of the Glow in the Dark!

October 19, 2014

Fall is in full swing and Halloween is approaching. It’s the time of year for glowing ghosts, ghouls, and… science ... Read More

Newton's Second Law

September 17, 2014

Consider the below system that includes massless string and a frictionless pulley. The weight of the mass and hanger over the pulley causes the system to accelerate. Deriving the relationship is straightforward, and with the mass terms combined, ... Read More

Biology Inquiry: Enzyme Activity

September 15, 2014

Enzymes are critical to many biological reactions. Understanding how enzymes work can help students better understand biology concepts from cellular processes to evolution. This activity allows students to quickly investigate a ubiquitous enzyme, ... Read More

Introduce Atomic Theory with Light!

September 15, 2014

How do you make the development of the Atomic Theory more accessible to students? Start by looking at lights using PASCO's Wireless Spectrometer! To begin the activity, have the ... Read More

Introduce Graphing with MatchGraph

September 2, 2014

Make studying motion fun with MatchGraph! This program turns interpreting position and velocity vs. time graphs into a game, where students compete to see who can best match their own motion to the trends shown by the app. In addition to the ... Read More

Wireless Spectrometry: Colored Solutions

May 7, 2014

The new PASCO Wireless Spectrometer paired with our intuitive Spectrometry software now make analyzing colored solutions easier than ... Read More

Leaf Lessons

March 19, 2014

A Key Concepts in Life Science SPARKlab from Sally Ride Science® and ... Read More

Titrations ... not just pH anymore!

March 11, 2014

Acids and bases are a key component of any chemistry curriculum and titrations are the most common experimental technique for analyzing these types of solutions.Many titrations involve the use of indicators, like phenolphthalein, methyl red, or ... Read More

Studying Sound

January 21, 2014

Sound is an interesting science concept that lends itself well to student inquiry. Using PASCO's Sound Level Sensor, or the built-in microphone located on tablets, and materials that are already in your ... Read More

Smoothing EKG Data

January 17, 2014

The PASPORT EKG Sensor can be a greate resource to get your students interested in the heart cycle. After collecting data they can use the annotation and analysis tools to label the ... Read More

Concentration and Colorimetry

January 16, 2014

Are your students struggling with the concept of concentration? Are they having trouble taking MV1 = M2V2 beyond rote memorization to actual application? Try experimenting with colored solutions! ... Read More

Long Term Weather Monitoring

November 18, 2013

One great way to put data collection equipment to use during breaks or between labs is to conduct long term environmental monitoring. Students can analyze the data to address a variety of topics such as weather, microclimates, air/water quality, and ... Read More

Water quality sampling on the Sarapiquí River in Costa Rica

November 18, 2013

Science educators from the U.S. recently traveled to Sarapiquí, Costa Rica, for a professional development seminar to learn how to lead students on educational travel programs abroad and translate those experiences back to the classroom. As ... Read More

Rainbow in a U-Tube - Electrolysis

November 15, 2013

Are you introducing your students to electrochemistry and electrolysis? Make it a colorful lesson by creating a rainbow in a U-tube! Incorporate the Voltage/Current ... Read More

Photosynthesis Inquiry

November 13, 2013

To help develop your students experimental design and scientific process skills the labs in the Advanced Biology Through Inquiry manual ... Read More

Mitochondrial Genetics Kit - Teacher Review

November 13, 2013

My AP® Biology and Pre-AP® Biology classes used the PASCO Mitochondrial Genetics Kits to perform gel electrophoresis. And I am always skeptical when using a kit for the first time, fearing a shortage of materials, hard-to-understand ... Read More

Visualizing Data in Google Earth

October 17, 2013

It’s easy to geo-tag data in the field using the GPS Sensor. We already covered bringing data ... Read More

Introducing Cell Processes

October 15, 2013

Common student misconceptions about photosynthesis and respiration often arise from the inability to perceive these processes directly. Sensors can help students grow in their understanding of these two concepts and in their ability to design ... Read More

Glow Stick Kinetics

October 10, 2013

Want to illuminate the concepts of kinetics? Try Glow Sticks! Glow sticks are a very popular accessory around Halloween because they are cheap, portable and they give off a ghostly glow. But do ... Read More

Capstone Video Analysis

October 4, 2013

One of the many exciting features of PASCO Capstone software is the ability to analyze high speed video. In this particular activity projectile motion is explored with the help of a PASCAR ... Read More

Introducing Force and Newton's Laws

September 19, 2013

With some assistance from some technology teaching tools, you can easily introduce your students to the concepts of force and Newton’s laws. Using just textbooks and a Force ... Read More

Vapor Pressure and Humidity

September 16, 2013

Equilibrium and vapor pressure can be difficult concepts for students to visualize and grasp. Luckily, most students will be familiar with humidity. By using humidity, you can introduce equilibrium and vapor pressure in terms that are familiar and ... Read More

Dissolved Oxygen Inquiry

September 16, 2013

Dissolved Oxygen (DO) is simply oxygen gas (O2) dissolved in water, but it’s one of the best indicators of a healthy aquatic ecosystem. For most freshwater environments, a DO concentration of 5–10 mg/L (or ppm) is needed to ... Read More

Evaporative Cooling

August 28, 2013

This activity can help refresh your students on the scientific method and provide some biological context to the "chemistry of life" content that often kicks off the school year. Perspiration is critical to human evolutionary history and the ... Read More

Tracking Weather

August 27, 2013

Help your students understand weather, fronts, and air masses with a Weather/Anemometer Sensor. This MultiMeasure™ sensor collects nearly all relevant data ... Read More

Introduction to Chemistry - Antacid and Vinegar

August 27, 2013

Introduce your students to core chemistry concepts as well as data collection and analysis with a quick demonstration using common household chemicals. This classic demonstration of a chemical reaction is quantified and enhanced with pH, temperature ... Read More

Visualize GPS Data with ArcGIS Online

August 19, 2013

Whether you're collecting water quality, weather, or species distribution data, there are often patterns that are only visible in a geographic context. Geographic Information System (GIS) software can help students visual data spatially but is often ... Read More

Back-to-School Probe Prep

August 19, 2013

Most PASCO sensors and interfaces don't require any maintenance, but for continued accurate measurements, we recommend a little tune-up for some sensors at the beginning of the school year. Here are 10 tips to make sure your equipment is in optimal ... Read More