PALMYRA — New technology in the classroom is giving Palmyra-Macedon High School students a glimpse of the 21st century workplace, thanks to a grant from the Bullis Fund.
Candace Schneggenburger, chemistry and lead science teacher at the high school, applied for the grant through the Rochester Area Community Foundation with the thought of bringing students some of the latest technology in the field of data collection. The $16,000 grant was combined with a $30,000 grant secured by the district through state Sen. Michael Nozzolio and two smaller grants Schneggenburger received totaling an additional $2,000. With the funds in hand, the science department at Pal-Mac purchased several probeware devices that allows every science teacher in the high school to have eight of these data-collection devices in their classroom at all times. Schneggenburger said she was also able to add nanotechnology to the chemistry curriculum with some of the funding she received.
Among other things, the probeware can measure O2 content, CO2 content, gas pressures, conductivity, current, force, pH, lung capacity, blood pressure, heart rate, grip strength and more, Schneggenburger said. The devices are used extensively in Regents and FLCC Physics, Regents Chemistry and AP/IB/FLCC Biology classes and are being integrated into all Regents science courses, she added.
“Our superintendent, Bob Ike, brought the grant to my attention,” Schneggenburger said. “As the lead science teacher, I am always looking for ways to enrich the science program.”
Schneggenburger said in seeking the grant they had decided to introduce the probeware into the classroom for a number of reasons. First, the device is portable, so it can be used anywhere, not just inside the classroom. Second is its durability. The probeware is expected to last for years, she said. Finally, the device allows data collection to continue short or long term so students can carry out sustained laboratory activities. What’s more, the device can collect data even when students aren’t in school.
“Research indicates that use of the probeware shifts the emphasis from gathering data to analyzing data, which increases students’ interest in and commitment to studying science,” Schneggenburger said. “Also, simultaneous data collection and graphing helps students connect the abstract and the concrete as the data is graphed in real-time.”
The collected data can be exported and manipulated in Excel to make statistical analysis simple, and in the process it explicitly links math and science, she added. The probeware is also used in many college science courses and is similar to that used in hospitals and manufacturing.
In practical terms, the probeware allows students to track real-time data, which is what the device graphs for them. For example, Schneggenburger said her chemistry students will use the probeware to monitor at what temperature water freezes and melts.
“My students in chemistry always struggle with is the idea that water freezes and melts at the same temperature,” she explained. “They have the misconception that water, or any substance for that matter, must melt at a higher temperature than it freezes at. In reality, water freezes and melts at 0 degrees Celsius.”
The probeware automates the data collection, so students get the water’s temperature every few seconds while the water freezes and again while the water melts. Since the data is automatically graphed, the students can actually see that while freezing or melting, the water’s temperature remained constant.
“I have found this to be much more powerful than my telling them that water freezes and melts at the same temperature,” she added.
Schneggenburger has many to thank for the science department's advancements in technology and learning.
“I would like to thank Bob Ike for his commitment to advancing the science program here at Pal-Mac.” said Schneggenburger. “Between his commitment to the Project Lead the Way Program and all the help he has been in attaining grants, he is helping to ensure economic stability for our students and region. The use of this technology creates an engaging, motivating, and collaborative atmosphere in the classroom similar to the 21st century workplace.”
Schneggenburger also gives credit to Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Student Learning Ryan Pacatte, who has given his support in her efforts to graduate students who are prepared for work or higher education.