The importance of data loggers in school science has increased in the past few years. A continued growth on teaching and learning new STEM skills across the world is one of the main reasons why. What’s more, the UK government has highlighted a shortage of STEM skills across the workforce as a key economic problem facing the country. So, what are data loggers? How can they be used by schools? And what are the benefits to using data loggers in schools? Let us explain.
What is a data logger?
The simplest definition of a data logger is that it is a piece of equipment that captures data over a given period of time. Typically, data loggers contain built-in sensors such as temperature or sound sensors. The sensors can be programmed to capture different amounts of external information for varying amounts of time.
Used extensively in schools across the world, data loggers help students complete experiments. For example, how do levels of carbon dioxide alter during the different stages of a plant’s photosynthesis cycle. At more advanced levels, data loggers can capture hundreds of thousands of pieces of information from multiple sources (sensors), allowing students to compare and analyse data.
How can schools use data loggers?
Data loggers are perfect for using in schools. With a wide variety of uses, they make science experiments simple, easily repeatable and in real time. Put simply, students can capture data as they see it happening. This gives them a chance to experience real life science, participate like real scientists and adapt and change their experiments based on the results they are gathering.
A simple experiment such as the temperature change of hot water is easy to set up with results available within minutes. With data loggers often utilising sensors such as distance, sound, light, pH, air pressure and temperature, there are hundreds of different experiments for students. Here are just a few of our favourites:
- Boyle’s Law
- How gravity influences the free fall motion of a table tennis ball
- How greenhouses affect temperature inside and outside
- The effects of exercise on our heart rate
- Measuring the pH of common drinks
What are the advantages to using data loggers in schools?
In today’s modern and changing world, the ability of students to be adaptable is key. In other words, students need to be able to change their thinking based on their observations, emergence of new information or outcomes of experiments, whether successful or not.
For primary schools, data loggers are perfect for introducing computing and technology into the primary curriculum. Young minds are inquisitive! Using equipment in the classroom helps bring science lessons to life and builds confidence with using technology that is not normally present in class.
In secondary schools, colleges and universities, data loggers come into their own. With more complicated experiments taking place, data loggers can be programmed to capture hundreds of measurements each second, every second, without the need to take a break. If required, they can capture data 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Data loggers also offer schools significant advantages over other data capture methods including:
- Speed – data loggers can capture thousands of pieces of information in seconds as well as capturing data when students are not around
- Accuracy – data loggers automatically capture the required information, reducing the risk of human error and removing the risk of a forgotten or missed reading
- Storage – data loggers can store large amounts of data which is accessible for analysis by students at a later time
Which data loggers should I use?
We would recommend SensorDiscTM from our range. It’s a complete, all-in-one science data logger in the palm of your hand. With 12 built-in sensors, it offers unparalleled convenience, cost and portability for schools. It has a battery life of up to 150 hours, the capability to capture 100,000 samples per second and the ability to save one million samples.
SensorDiscTM comes complete with detailed analysis software allowing teachers and students to easily visualise their experiments and practicals and interrogate their collected data. It also contains a number of guides introducing common experiments, the theory behind each one and how to perform and, most importantly, analyse the data collected.
To find out more about SensorDiscTM, visit www.philipharris.co.uk/SensorDisc.