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Science CSI

By Sally Finley - Posted Jan 1, 2005
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REPORT CARD
Overall Rating:5 Stars
Installation:A
Content/Features:A
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: Vernier Software & Technology, 13979 S.W. Millikan Way, Beaverton, OR 97005; Phone: 888/837-6437; Fax: 503/277-2440; E-mail: info@vernier.com; Internet: http://www.vernier.com/.
 
Price: $1,049--Science CSI kit with microscope, probes, and software.
 
Audience: Grades 5-12.
 
Format: Hardware and CD-ROM: text, graphics.
 
Minimum System Requirements:
Windows systems: MMX Pentium 200 MHz processor, 2 GB hard drive, 32 MB RAM (64 MB recommended), Windows 98 (Second Edition)/2000/ME, CD-ROM drive, and USB port(s) access.
Macintosh systems: Macintosh computer with 2 GB hard drive, 32 MB RAM (64 MB recommended), MAC OS 8.6 or 9.0/9.1 (factory installed), CD-ROM drive, and USB port(s) access.
 
Description: The Science CSI kit is a collection of digital science tools accompanied by a science curriculum. The kit includes a Bodelin Proscope USB digital microscope with 50x lens; Bodelin 200x lens; Bodelin microscope tube adapter; Bodelin C-Mount adapter; Vernier Go! Link Interface; Vernier Stainless Steel Temperature Probe; Vernier pH Probe, Vernier Conductivity Probe; Vernier Logger Lite Software with a schoolwide site license curriculum booklet, and hard-shell storage and carrying case.

Reviewer Comments:
Installation: I used the software on a Power Mac G4 computer running system 9.2. Installation was simple and quick. Once the software is installed on the hard drive, the CD-ROM is not required to access the program. The probe attaches to a USB port. If additional USB ports are available, multiple sensors can be used. Installation Rating: A
 
Content/Features: The Science CSI kit brings today's popular crime investigation theme into the classroom, allowing students to discover the reasons for the effects of bacterial contamination, acid rain, and more.
 
The kit includes a curriculum with five specific science lessons designed by Apple Distinguished Educators. The lessons promote hands-on inquiry strategies and are aligned to national science standards.
 
Students work with the included digital microscope, temperature probes, and pH sensors as investigation tools. Data is recorded and stored on a computer and can be printed out in graph form.
 
The probes and sensors can be used with a computer, as well as with a TI or Palm OS hand-held device.
 
The temperature probe functions like a regular thermometer and measures Fahrenheit and Kelvin readings.
 
The pH Sensor functions like a traditional pH meter, with the added advantage of being able to collect data, as well as graph and analyze the collected data.
 
The Conductivity Probe measures the total concentration of ions in a sample to determine changes in or levels of total dissolved ions or salinity.
 
Additional sensors are available and definitely would be an asset to middle and high school science classes. Older students will be able to use these tools with little assistance from the teacher.
 
The included Go! Link software provides functionality for a variety of probes available from Vernier. Also included is Proscope cross-platform software that allows the user to capture and edit videos or still images from a hand-held microscope.
 
The five featured lessons cover the transfer of heat energy; bacterial contamination; an exploration of physical science and chemistry with an emphasis on boiling points, density, and solubility; the effect of acid rain on building materials; and concepts of soil composition and the effect of a changing external environment on living organisms.
 
I taught the lesson "Solving the Liquid Trail" to a group of 25 gifted students in the 4th grade. A small group of students presented the problem in a creative skit format. After defining the problem and establishing procedures, the class divided into groups.
 
Roles were assigned to each group member. The roles included a group recorder, an individual assigned to gather the materials for the group, a leader for the first data run and the stain analysis using the probe, a discussion leader to summarize the group findings, and a student to coordinate the iPhoto presentation.
I used the Curriculum Booklet to develop a list of tasks for the groups. After reviewing the tasks, the students worked on each of them. When the experiments were completed, the students used the probe and digital microscope to examine the recorded data. They then created an iPhoto presentation summarizing their findings to share with the class.
 
By breaking the tasks into small segments and keeping the students focused, I was able to assist the students with the technology tools, one group at a time. The children were very excited about the entire project and their final products were evidence of higher-level thinking skills. My students loved the chance to test their ideas using the technology tools available in the kit. Content/Features Rating: A
 
Ease of Use: The hardware and software is straightforward and simple to use. Complete step-by-step instructions are available with the software and in the Curriculum Booklet. Ease of Use Rating: A
 
Product Support: Product support is provided through product manuals, workshops, a free Vernier Training CD, an online Discussion Board, and an e-mail form for assistance requests. Software-update links provide the latest upgrades. Support is also available at http://www.vernier.com/ and by e-mail at info@vernier.com. Product Support Rating: A
 
Recommendation: Science CSI engages students immediately through hands-on activities that promote scientific inquiry and investigation. Although the activities require some preplanning on the part of the teacher, the time spent is worth the effort.
 
The kit brings life and enthusiasm to the classroom and challenges students to use higher-level thinking skills. Every child in the classroom is able to contribute to the success of the project, especially those with emerging language acquisition and special needs.
 
Using this kit provided a technology-rich environment for my classroom. The students were very impressed by the ease in using the digital microscope. They were able to spend their time analyzing the data generated by the computer and were not forced to spend a lot of time creating the graphs and charts themselves.
 
This kit makes it extremely easy to bring meaningful, hands-on science into the classroom. The use of computers assures a more accurate means of determining measurement. Experiments can be continuously monitored without close attention. and the results can be saved, displayed, graphed, analyzed, and recalled with ease. In addition, using computer software eliminates the need to have students work with mercury or other types of breakable thermometers.
Science CSI is definitely a "must have" for every classroom. Outstanding!
 
Reviewer: Sally Finley, Gifted/Technology, Country Hills Elementary School, 10550 Westview Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33076; Phone: 954/341-0460; E-mail:  sallyfinley1@yahoo.com.


 
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