Planning for the introduction of data logging in Science
Di Fenton, Fawkham Primary School
Fawkham is a small rural school with 93 pupils. Our aims were to develop Control Technology throughout Key Stage 2 and promote the interest of ICT in staff and pupils. This report outlines the introduction of the Datameter in Years 3/4 and 5/6, and the Science investigations undertaken by children.
Introducing the Datameter (or another sensor eg. Logit Explorer)
Give yourself time to play with the Datameter in order to become familiar with using it before working with a class.
First, introduce the light sensor to the children. The changes are immediate, and it's easy to relate effect to cause. There is a need for discussion about sources of light and changes in light level - natural, or controlled by humans. Talk about the use of sensors in the familiar environment.
Let the children experiment with the sensor. Cover the sensor, then point it towards a source of light. Children begin to understand the features of the real-time graphs and what the sensor is recording.
Integrate the use of sensors into the planning of other subjects. Once staff and pupils are familiar with how the software and sensors work then it is possible to incorporate their use into planning for curriculum subjects. We have been able to integrate sensors into our medium and long term planning in Numeracy (graph work), Science (temperature) and Geography (weather conditions locally and around the world.) The use of sensors has also led to some useful work in English (E-mails to other parts of the world to exchange temperature readings.)
The most effective way to use the sensors is with small groups of two or three. It is not practical for a large number of children to crowd round an experiment.
Extra Adult Help
Remember to keep the Datameter charged! This is a simple task of plugging it into the mains - you do not need to switch it on. It is a matter of getting into a routine so that it is always ready for use.
Outline planning for Years 3 - 4
Pupils are taught in mixed year groups. Each group began with a weekly half-hour lesson, although this was extended to an hour when the experiments took place.
Introduction to the concept of how ICT can be used to control actions. We talked about traffic lights, EPOS systems, car park barriers, etc. and then discussed how computers can be used to assist these processes.
Discuss sensors in the familiar environment, matching sensor to process (light sensor to street lights, proximity sensors for some traffic light operations, etc.).
EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) systems discussed and children asked to pay attention to what happened the next time they paid for goods at the supermarket.
Introduce the Datameter.
Give pupils an opportunity to use all the sensors.
Use the Datameter in real time (connected directly to the PC) so that the pupils are immediately able to see the results in graphical format (using Junior Insight software).
Make sure children understand features of the graphs. Ask questions: Where is there a rapid / slow change? Which are large / small changes?
Using the Datameter to measure how much light passes through different materials.
A cardboard box was provided. Children were given the opportunity to discuss and decide in their groups how to carry out the investigation.
The Datameter was attached to the PC throughout the experiment. Children responded better to the immediate feedback given with the graphing facility. The children put a hole in the box which allowed the light sensor to be placed inside the box and the Datameter outside. Groups decided to investigate the following:
Year 3 - how much light travels through different coloured paper
Year 4 - how much light travels through different materials
Children bring in different materials. (i.e. plastic, paper, card, tissue paper, kitchen roll, etc.)
Provide paper in different colours making sure there is a good variety of very dark and very light papers.
Carry out the tests using the Datameter
Prepare spreadsheets of results.
Children were responsible for setting everything up themselves. First, they checked that the Datameter was sending information to the computer. They then replaced the box lid with different materials, watching the changes in light readings as they changed the coloured paper or material.
When we changed the material too quickly, the children found it difficult to interpret the line graph. We therefore decided to move from darkness (with the box lid on) to one material at a time. It was now obvious where the change had taken place.
Each pair produced one chart showing the change in light density from darkness for a particular colour or material. This also enabled all children to take part in the experiment. The children obtained printouts from the Junior Insight software and also used Excel to prepare a spreadsheet showing their findings. Charts were also produced from the spreadsheet, enabling the children to investigate different chart types and the best ones to use to represent their findings to best effect.
Pupils word process a project report.
Teacher produces a display of work.
With the class, interpret graphs and discuss findings.
Outline planning for Years 5 - 6
The first two weeks followed those for Years 3 - 4, allowing children to become familiar with the function and use of sensors.
From the third week, pupils used the temperature sensor to investigate how temperature varies from place to place in a small area. This led to comparisons of local and global temperatures. The differentiation was made in how the project was documented. Year 5 pupils compiled a Word report while Year 6 pupils created a PowerPoint presentation.
A group were given the Datameter with the temperature sensor and asked to track temperature changes throughout a school day. They were asked to choose 4 locations to measure the temperature (outside the school buildings but within the grounds).
Pupils used the Datameter independently and uploaded the readings to the Junior Insight software.
They typed the readings onto an Excel spreadsheet.
With help, they entered formulae to work out the lowest, highest and mean readings.
They produced charts in Excel and explore different chart types.
Year 5 wrote up the project using Word, while Year 6 prepared a simple PowerPoint presentation. All children contributed to a display of the project.
Both projects ran much more smoothly when children were organised in groups of 2 or 3. It was very difficult for 6 or more children to crowd around a Datameter and a cardboard box trying to see readings (and blocking out the necessary daylight!).
Both staff and pupils feel a sense of purpose and achievement. We have developed additional ICT skills that can be used in the future. Many schools are in our situation, facing curriculum demands which leave little time to develop other skills. Having made the commitment to set aside extra time for staff training we feel it has been time well spent.