Ideas for Experiments Using Electronic Probes and Data Collecting Software

There is nothing permanent except change.


1. Whose hand is warmer now? Use the temperature probe and have one learner at a time hold the probe in his/her hand for one minute while the computer collects data once a second. Repeat for each person in your group. Review results.

2. Heating land and water. Use two similar trays and fill one with sand and the other with water. Place a lamp (heat source) so that each tray will receive equal amounts of heat. Put one temperature probe in each tray at fairly equal positions in the sand or water and position relative to the heat source (lamp). Collect data for at least 20 minutes (once every two minutes).

3. Sand and water cooling. Put equal amounts of sand and water into two similar containers, carefully insert a temperature probe (may need to pour sand around the sand probe as pushing the probe through sand can damage the probe) into each and hold into place with a stopper or tape. Heat both to about the same temperature (place both in a hot water bath- about 50 degrees Celsius). Remove the containers and place both in similar locations, start the computer collecting data and collect for about 20 minutes.

4. Greenhouse effect. Create a greenhouse by using a clear container, putting sand, water, or soil in the bottom inserting a probe (may want to tape the probe to a ruler to position the probe at a certain position in the container- 5 cm. Careful not to put tape near the probe tip) and wrapping the opening with plastic wrap. A second container and probe can be set up and positioned identically as the first, except for the plastic wrap, to use as a control. Place a lamp equal distance from the containers and probes and collect temperature data for 15 minutes.

5. Greenhouse effect. Use apparatus similar to that above. Change the variable of what is put into the bottom of the container, the time that the light shines and data collected. The size of the light bulb, the distance of the source from the container and probe, use a sunny day in place of the light bulb?

6. Relative humidity. Use a shoelace or other cotton fabric to make a cover for the tip of a temperature probe that can be wet with water. Connect two probes to the computer with one tip dry and the other wet (use water that is at the temperature of the air or slightly above). Gently wave the tips in the air and collect data. Collect data inside and outside and may want to collect data over a period of days with different weather conditions. Does sunny, shady, windy, calm make a difference?

7. Soil pH. Collect and describe soil samples (about 3 tablespoons). Put each sample into a jar with 100 ml of distilled water shake well for a least 50 times, let settle five minutes, shake again for 50 more times, and let settle for at least five minutes. Rinse the pH sensor with distilled water, insert it into the liquid part of the soil sample, gently swirl, note the pH reading in the meter window, when the reading stabilizes, record the value. Rinse the pH sensor with distilled water and return it to its container. Put 100 ml of water and 50 ml of soil into a container and mix. Then filter the combination of soil and water, measure the water, and determine the absorption of the soil. What properties of soil are important?

8. Absorption of radiant energy. Put one temperature probe under a white sheet of paper and another under black. Position a light or radiant heat source equal distance from the papers and probes. Collect data for ten minutes. Try different colors of paper. What differences are there?

9. Reflectivity of light. Position a light sensor about 5 cm above table or desk surface. Set the sensor for 0-6000 lux. Leave the classroom lights on. Put a sheet of paper that you want to measure on the surface below the sensor. Record the reflected light value when the sensor's reading stabilizes. Record a shiny surface, foil or mirror, black, white, other colors. A percentage of reflectivity can be calculated based on a standard. If you use the shiny surface as the standard a percentage of reflectivity can be calculated as the value of the paper/ the value of the shiny surface * 100.

10. Environment temperature and light intensity study. Select a number of different places within a restricted environment (park-lawn mowed grass, deeper grass or vegetation, concrete, black top, sand, dirt with no vegetation, other?). Photograph and label each place. Collect the ground temperature and air temperatures of the select locations. Also collect the light intensity at the same locations (set the sensor at 0-150 000 lux, attach the sensor to a ruler so that when the ruler is on the ground the sensor will be 5 cm above the ground, and position the ruler so that the sensor isn't shaded by the ruler). Describe the living organisms at the different locations. Organize and present the data and conclusions. See Outdoor education activities along with Learner examples of displays of their data and analysis.

11. Insulated cup or plastic cup? Select a Styrofoam cup and a plastic cup that are about the same size and shape. Put the same amount of hot or cold water into each (100 ml) insert a temperature probe into each. If the water is hot, then when the temperature of both probes stop rising, begin collecting the data. Collect the data for about 20 minutes. If the water is cold, then when the temperature of both probes stops falling, begin collecting the data? Analyze data. Could have students use similar plastic cups or bottles and wrap each in different kinds of material or other substances and determine the value of each as an insulator (remember to leave on unwrapped to use as a _____). Is there a difference between materials that are dry or wet?

12. Temperature on a globe to simulate the seasons. Tape a temperature probe to a globe with the sensor of the probe touch the globe at the location representing your location. The distance of the light bulb to the center of the globe should be the same for each collection of data (about 20cm should work), the height for the first day of summer and the first day of winter position should be level with the Tropic of Capricorn, and height for the first day of spring and fall should be level with the equator. Pick one of the four seasons as a starting point and position the globe accordingly to the sun (light bulb) with the North Pole of the globe pointing toward the North Star. Begin to collect data, after the first reading has been taken turn on the light bulb and continue to collect data for the five minutes. Realign the globe for the next season, cool the probe.

13. Solar homes. Create two identical model solar houses. Use a bottle filled with room temperature water as the thermal mass of one and air as the thermal mass of the other. Position a light equal distance and angles from both houses. Insert a temperature probe half way into the house and so that the light doesn't shine on it. Record the temperature for 45 minutes with the light on and 45 after the light is turned off. Could test different solar mass materials, houses constructed of different materials, colors of the houses, sizes of windows, longer lengths of time?

14. Mapping the ocean floor. Attach (tape) a motion detector to the end of a meter stick or other stick so that the detector can be suspended over the model ocean at the same level by sliding the stick across the top of a table. Place the model ocean floor (large cardboard box with an ocean floor created in its bottom) so that one end of the ocean floor is below the motion detector and if the stick is slid across the table the motion detector will travel across the ocean above the simulated ocean bottom. When you are able to slide the stick across the table so that the motion detector is crossing the ocean at the desired positions, position the detector at the starting position, turn on the computer, and collect the data, calibrate the data (click on statistics and enter the floor and distance to top of box (sea level) in meters) and interpret the results.

15. Boiling temperature of water. Fill a container two-thirds with water and position a temperature probe so the tip is 2 cm above the bottom of the container. CAUTION do not burn yourself or melt the probe wire. Begin to collect data when you begin to heat the water and continue for about six minutes after the water has been boiling noticeably. Turn off heat and remove probe Analyze results. Could also start with ice (4-5 cubes) in ice water and begin to record and turn on heat after the probe stops dropping.

16. Freezing temperature of water. Use a container that will hold 100 ml of water, six large ice cubes, and a small test tube with 5 ml of water and a temperature probe fastened securely in the test tube and the test tube fastened securely in the larger container. Lower the test tube into the cold water of the large container, begin to collect data, add five spoons of salt and gently stir. Continue to stir the ice water and also gentle stir the probe in the five ml of water. When 10 minutes pass stop stirring the probe and let it freeze in the container. Continue to stir the ice water and add more ice as the original ice gets smaller and there is sufficient room. Continue collect data for another five minutes or until the five ml of water is ice and the temperature is not changing. Be careful no to try and remove the probe from the ice. Wait until the ice melts and then remove it. The container can be put into warm water for faster melting and probe removal.

17. How low can you go? Put a probe into 100ml of crushed ice and collect data while gently stirring the ice until a steady temperature is reached. Is it the normal melting temperature of ice? Can the ice be made colder? Add 5 grams of salt to the ice water and stir until the temperature is steady again. Record the temperature. Using five grams of salt what is the coldest temperature of ice you can create? Devise a plan and test it.

18. Finding the best cold pack. Use ammonium chloride NH4Cl, citric acid H3C6H5O7, potassium chloride, KCl, sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3, and sodium carbonate Na2CO3. Design and test a plan to find the best ingredients from the list for making a cold pack. (Possible suggestion, mix 3 grams with 10 ml of room temperature water and collect temperature data for each substance. Then determine hoe to use 3 grams with different amounts of water to determine the best amount of solid to water.)

19. Cooling big people or little people. Use a two liter plastic bottle and a one liter plastic bottle. Fill both with hot tap water to where they are usually filled with pop. Insert a probe into each bottle and collect data for 10-20 minutes. What difference would sweat make? Repeat the procedure and this time mist the bottles with a spray of water.

20. What is the intensity of different light bulbs?
How does the intensity of different CFL's change when they are turned on?

21. What are different sound levels at different events? exercise class,
concert, pep rallies, headsets, traffic. See OSHA noise standards

22. Leaf liter. Put in to CO2 chamber until determine the production rate of CO2 maybe five minutes. Vary the temperature by placing the chamber in different temperature baths. Vary moisture content by adding known amounts of water to the chamber.

23. Environmental temperature compared to - relative humidity - relative pressure - wind direction - wind velocity - cloud cover - soil or water temperature ...




Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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