In these two design challenges, students will design and construct their own thermos/storage device using craft materials and measure its effectiveness to insulate a liquid with a PocketLab temperature probe. These activities are aligned with two middle school NGSS standards and are a great open-ended, hands-on project for students to engage their critical thinking and engineering skills.
PocketLab University is an initiative to develop college-level labs that students can conduct at home, in their dorm room, or in any other setting without the need for laboratory equipment. Lab 1 uses PocketLab Voyager to understand the physical principles that enable temperature sensors to convert the physical property of temperature to an electrical property that we can measure with simple circuitry. The student assignment is below.
Forest fires are a common natural disaster within western North America and pose a serious risk to many communities both nearby due to direct danger of the fire, as well as far away in the form of air pollution. Currently, in many places, some form of government employee will be in charge of looking out for forest fires and once identified, satellites and computer programs can be used to track its progression and predict where the fire will spread and where the smoke cloud will go. This allows us to evacuate individuals who may be in danger and minimize loss of life.
Introduction to Rangefinders
Rangefinders, sometimes called motion sensors or motion detectors are commonly used in probeware, camera autofocus, and robotics. Rangefinders operate on the principle of a time-of-flight measurement and consist of a transmitter and receiver. The transmitter emits a signal (ultrasonic or optical) then the receiver detects the reflection or echo of the signal. The amount of time between transmit and receive is called the time-of-flight and is used to calculate the distance to the reflecting object:
Introduction to Pressure Sensors
Pressure sensors are one of the most widely used sensors and can be found in probeware for lab measurements, but more commonly in billions of devices including smartphones, wearables, automobiles, drones, weather centers, and medical instruments. Pressure sensors were one of the first sensors to be miniaturized and mass produced at a low cost through microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) fabrication.
Using PocketLab to Teach MS-PS2-1: Engineering Design and Newton's Third Law
NGSS Standard MS-PS2-1: What's in the standard?
Teaching NGSS Standard MS-PS2-1 can have challenges. Students need to apply principles in forces and motion to engineer a design that will solve a problem. The performance expectation for the standard states: Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.
Egg Drop Experiment with Data
We can take an egg drop further by adding sensor data collection. Normally an egg drop is a “pass or fail” activity, and collecting data is difficult. With an sensor in place of the egg for trial runs, students can refine their designs with real life data.
Introduction to Crash Cushioning
In addition to automobile features that promote road safety, there has been and continues to be a great deal of work on highway features that save lives. An earlier lab entitled Crash Cushion Investigation, submitted by PocketLab, makes use of the PocketLab HotRod to investigate crash cushioning similar to that shown in Figure 1.
A Tactile Sensor ON/OFF ScratchX Switch
This lesson provides an example of how to ScratchX program PocketLab Voyager's tactile sensor as an ON/OFF switch. If you have a device such as a light bulb, motor, or robot that is under control of ScratchX, then the code in this lesson may be a starting point for you. The ScratchX program assumes that the device can be in any one of two possible states, which we will call ON and OFF.
Introduction to Accelerometers
What does an accelerometer measure? The obvious answer is acceleration, but that's not really true. An accelerometer actually measures normal force or restoring force which we equate to acceleration using the formula, F=ma. This article will explain the fundamental operating principles of accelerometers and answer the question: how does an accelerometer work? We will also investigate the capabilities and drawbacks of accelerometers in certain applications.
You can investigate these concepts on your own using: