NEW ZEALAND TARANAKI

Digital multimeters as data loggers

Michael Fenton has been exploring the use of digital mulitmeters in science and mathematics. A spin-off has been the use of multimeters as a DIY data logger substitute for primary and secondary schools. This work builds on research as a Ministry of Education e-Learning Fellow and Royal Society Facilitator.

see the related articles in:

  • SCIOS. Science Teachers Association of Western Australia. Using a digital multi-meter as an inexpensive data-logger substitute. 2011
  • New Zealand INTERFACE magazine |Michael Fenton| March 2010,

Michael presented this work in a hands-on workshop at ULearn 2013 and at a secondary workshop in Taupo


LATEST NEWS: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that mobile phone use might increase the risk of developing a brain tumour. The organisation says a review of all the available scientific evidence suggests cellphone use should be classified as "possibly carcinogenic". Using a multimeter as a datalogger provides a visible measure of the energy in the radiation emitted by a cell phone / mobile phone (jump to this section).



Download the slideshow

Learn how to turn $10 digital multimeters into teaching tools for mathematics and science classes.

Read the slideshow here





A  "how to" video clip for a heat sensor;  safe use of probes and hiding confusing labels...

Multimeters as a substitute for data loggers:

Traditional approaches to using portable data logging devices have seen them being kept for occassional “special” lessons and as equipment saved for use in year 12 and year 13 classes. This is largely due to data loggers being expensive and relatively complicated menu driven portable computers.

Sensors routinely cost in the vicinity of $90 to $350, depending on the type of sensor being used.

In contrast, digital multimeters cost around $10, are simple to use, and sensors can cost as little as 2 cents each.

Some of the sensors Michael has made that plug into a multimeter.

Using a multimeter as a substitute for a data logger

Angle sensor investigation

Download an example activity here

"This is an excellent tool to remind us that mathematics is a science too..."

A novel teaching and learning technology

The learning philosophy here is that students assemble a sensor and use mathematics to describe how it functions. This activity reminds students that mathematics is based in the real world and has real world consequences if calculations are incorrect…

A variety of mathematical concepts can be covered...

  • statistics,
  • graphing,
  • algebra and
  • probability.

A variety of science concepts can be covered...

  • chemistry,
  • biology,
  • physics,
  • geology,
  • astronomy and
  • the weather.
After the chaos from the Canterbury earthquake has settled and schools are 'back to normal', soil and water samples could be monitored using these digital multimeter sensors to monitor environmental changes after the Christchurch earthquake.

A science fair / technological development project  might  examine if  peizo electric sensors are able to detect changes in rock as stress builds in faults prior to an earthquake. 

A look at inquiry learning as a scientific method

"Students complete introductory activities guided by the teacher. Primary school teachers may recognise this as a version of the inquiry model of learning; this is actually a model of the scientific method. "

Inquiry method...a scientific method...

Students can pursue their own investigations after they have completed the introductory activities with the teacher. This is a form of authentic learning that permits students to develop and improve their key competencies as well as content knowledge and mathematical skills.

Education research findings: the importance of "getting our hands dirty"

From the research literature, a number of conclusions can be drawn...

  1. there is a lack of understanding of the nature of science by both students and teachers.
  2. there is a call for more practical hands-on investigations in science and mathematics to enhance student learning.
  3. the lack of affordable and robust equipment has been suggested as to why teachers are reluctant to do practical work.

The use of multimeters could go some way to solving this problem.

 

Doing what real scientists do:

Understanding the nature of science...

Build your own tools

Test your own equipment

Model, explore, analyse and refine ideas and reasoning using data collected.

Students can use this tool at home!

Students have been trialling using Google Docs to upload documents and share them with other students and teachers. Combining technologies provides powerful new tools in education for teaching, learning and assessment

A new approach to ICT -being Interested in Conversations and Thinking (Michael Fenton, 2008)
angle sensor investigation

"Research reminds us that it is not the technology that makes the difference…it is how we use it. Technology can stimulate conversations and thinking if used with appropriate pedagogies and assessment tools (Michael Fenton, 2008)

 

What more ideas?

Read Michael's presentation at the Microsoft Partners in Learning Innovative Teachers Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia...Learning from Life: Communities of Learning via a Connected Curriculum.




A  "how to" video clip for a mobile phone sensor;  download mobile phone detector circuit instructions here
This is a great demonstration of the wireless transmission of electricity, suggested by Nicola Telsa.
LATEST NEWS: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that mobile phone use might increase the risk of developing a brain tumour. The organisation says a review of all the available scientific evidence suggests cellphone use should be classified as "possibly carcinogenic". Using a multimeter as a datalogger provides a visible measure of the energy in the radiation emitted by a cell phone / mobile phone 


A  "how to" video clip for a light sensor;  the LED must be inserted the right way around. A UV LED senses UV radiation, a green LED senses green light, etc.




A  "how to" video clip for an angle sensor. A great tool to teach graphing and calibration of science equipment.



A  "how to" video clip for a salt sensor (ionic / molecular crystal sensor). You can use this wet or dry. Remember sugar crystals are made of neutral molecules; salt crystals are made up of electrcially charged ions.


 

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