Science and Technology: Probing into the Future

Area(s) of Focus: technology
Division(s): Senior
Level(s): Grade 11, Grade 12

The purpose of this project is to see if engagement and understanding is improved through the use of modernized equipment that will not only engage students in their learning, but also allow them to collect more accurately the data.

We are wanting to explore and use information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance teaching and learning in secondary science programming.  We are looking at using scientific probes and integrating Strand A: Scientific Investigation Skills into our assessment for/as/of learning as these are an integral part of science education. The collection of accurate, clean data is critical in being able to make scientific predictions and interpretations. With the development in technology in handheld wireless probes, we are able to offer students an increased accuracy of this data collection, thus allowing an increased accuracy in interpretation and graphical analysis.  

We are hoping to create assessments that include the SIS skills that will allow for a natural triangulation of information to evaluate student learning. Traditionally, science has relied on products solely to determine student grades. However, using the Strand A overall expectations, we will smoothly be able to assess students for/as/of their ability to demonstrate laboratory skills: observable and conversational real-life laboratory science skills that will improve their quality of work and understanding of science.

Team Members

  • Graeme Wyatt

    Renfrew County District School Board

  • Cheryl Welbanks

    Renfrew County District School Board

Professional Learning Goals

  • Integration of new technology (PASCO probes) to improve data collection for laboratory explorations and increase student engagement
  • Integration/embedding of SIS skills (interpret, visualize, etc.) into the other existing strand assessments
  • Developed activities that are more inquiry-based, even if just in small incremental steps

Activities and Resources

  • Lab activities in all science classes at the school from grades 9 to 12 using the PASCO probes
  • Create assessments with planning team to reflect the overall expectations of the desired strand and integration of the Strand A: SIS skills
  • Team will observe students using PASCO probes and collaborate to triangulate data for student assessments for/as/of learning
  • SPARKvue – PASCO software for iPads
  • iPads
  • pH, pressure and temperature PASCO probes

Unexpected Challenges

One unexpected challenge was the fact that we went in thinking that the students had a certain skill set for using technology, but they really did not. So the first use of the technology probes with Grade 12 students did not end up going well as the students could not intuitively use the Bluetooth probes and the software.  The team then had to go back and come up with a five-minute beginning-of-the-year lesson that familiarized the students with the probes and the software.

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

This project will better prepare students for a more technologically based world by allowing them access to modernized equipment. This modernized equipment will not only engage students in their learning, but also will allow them to collect more accurate data. This, in turn, will allow students to more accurately interpret their data and make predictions that are relevant. The integration of SIS skills into the student’s data and triangulation of data will demonstrate to students the importance of clean, accurate data collection. As well, students will see the importance of general laboratory skills and their integral part of the scientific process.  



Graeme has shared the ideas with the other science teachers in his department through formal and informal department meetings. At the current time, Graeme is the only chemistry teacher in the department. The other science teachers were very interested in the technology integration of the probes, however, as the probes were very specific to the chemistry curriculum, they are currently discussing implementation in their respective curricula. This project was supported by the teacher instructional coach in the school and she has discussed the work with other chemistry teachers in the board. We are hoping to see implementation of a board-wide technology integration initiative into science classrooms.



Project Evaluation

Overall, we believe the project was a success. We looked at the difference in errors in the labs pre-technology and again post-technology, and there was a definite decrease in the errors in the labs that the students performed. What we did not expect, and what the project ended up developing, was a use of student inquiry and guided inquiry through the use of probes. The inquiry process has allowed our students to actually use their SIS skills to investigate problems. In the past, students followed a very prescribed procedure: all students collected the same data and reported on the same results. Now, using the inquiry process, students are guided, however they create their own investigation with the probes. The end result is greater collaboration and discussion among students about their parallel labs. The use of conversation and triangulation was also used in assessment to help determine if the students’ understanding of the concepts was greater through the use of technology.


Resources Used

  • POGIL Activities for AP Chemistry. Trout, L. ed. Batavia, IL: Flinn Scientific, 2015.
  • POGIL Activities for High School Chemistry.  Trout, L. ed. Batavia, IL: Flinn Scientific, 2012.
  • SPARKvue interface by PASCO