[NTLK] eProbe for eMate

From: Flemming Sorvin <fsorvin_at_alumni.sfu.ca>
Date: Thu Jul 06 2006 - 12:02:16 EDT

Ever hear of this?

I'm not selling it, I just came across the auction on eBay.

eProbeª Key Component of Collaborative
Distance-Learning Project
Elementary School Students Explore Science in Unique Ways
San Mateo, California
June 30, 1997
It's never too early to experience the joys of scientific discovery,
say teacher Tom Vitale and technology specialist Scott Muri of
Celebration School, located on the grounds of Walt Disney World in
Celebration, Florida. Using eProbe software from Knowledge Revolution
and eMateª 300 mobile computers from Apple Computer, Inc., Vitale's
students, ages 9 to 11. are not only investigating topics
traditionally reserved for much older students, but also are sharing
their discoveries with their counterparts at Lewis and Clark School
in St. Louis, Mo.
Through an innovative “distance-learning” project, students at both
schools are using eProbe and eMate to investigate environmental
concerns they have identified in their respective communities. Each
school collects data and sends it to the other for analysis. Students
in each classroom then must determine what type of additional
information is needed to come up with potential solutions.
Last fall, while taking a field trip through town, Vitale's students
identified numerous positives about their community, but also voiced
concerns that Celebration Lake might be polluted. So they brought
those concerns back to their classroom and decided to take action.
Around the same time, Lewis and Clark School contacted Muri to see if
Celebration students would be interested in helping investigate
potential asbestos contamination in the St. Louis school. The two
classrooms developed a joint problem-solving venture, using
technology to communicate, collaborate and conduct scientific
experiments. To begin, they held a video conference to introduce the
students to each other, pair them up and give them the opportunity to
share ideas.
“We talked about what adults typically do when they identify a problem
—they complain! Instead of complaining, these students wanted to
problem solve,” Muri said.
“Pollution is a real concern for them, and eProbe and eMate have
allowed us to take those concerns to the next level by investigating
the problem scientifically.”
Learning in an authentic setting The Celebration students took eProbe
and eMate to Celebration Lake and used temperature and pH probes to
take readings from different points around the lake, as well as from
the adjoining canal. They wanted to determine if pollution-related
temperature extremes and changes in pH could be killing living
organisms in the lake environment.
All of the students conducted identical testes, and each location was
tested over a period of five to 10 minutes. They used tables or
graphs, depending on the student's preference, to display the data as
it was collected. Then they compared their information by beaming it
to each other using infrared technology built into the eMate.
Although the distance-learning project is designed for data
collection only, with analysis being done by the other school, some
analysis occurs spontaneously with eProbe.
“As the students conducted the tests, eProbe plotted each temperature
reading automatically on the graphs and in the tables, so they got
instant feedback, making it easy to see that there were no
temperature extremes,” Muri said. “This immediate visual feedback has
a powerful effect on the learning process.”
The ability to conduct experiments in an authentic setting also makes
the learning experience more meaningful, he added. “With eProbe and
mobile computing, learning can take place wherever it needs to. It
isn't something contrived; it is authentic. Educators often contrive
a situation to teach a concept. Sometimes students remember a lesson
taught this way, but true impact is made if they are able to use a
tool to solve a real problem. They will remember that experience for
many years to come.”
Data exchange fosters collaboration Lewis and Clark students, in
turn, have used eProbe to test the temperature inside the walls of
their school, which was insulated with asbestos when the building was
constructed in 1965. They are trying to determine if extreme
temperatures could melt away the covering surrounding the asbestos.
The kids feel it may escape and get into the air they breathe. They
were told the asbestos has been sealed, so it isn't a problem, but
they haven't seen any data to prove it. In addition to collecting
eProbe samples, they also sent video and digital images of the
environment where the asbestos is located, as well as data from air-
quality samples grown in petri dishes.
As data is sent to Celebration from St. Louis, the students must
analyze it and try to create solutions for the problem. If they need
more information, such as where the asbestos is located or how it is
concealed, they request it from the Lewis and Clark students, who
must find the answers and send them back. The same process applies
for data sent to St. Louis from Celebration. Through this exchange
and analysis of information, the students develop collaboration
skills and focus on the parameters and implications of both projects,
thereby broadening their understanding of the concepts involved.
Developing critical thinking skills For the most part, Muri and
Vitale have acted as facilitators, allowing the students to determine
project parameters and set up the experiments themselves. “I
introduced probes to them, but the decided which ones would be the
most appropriate to use,” Muri said. “They defined the type of data
needed, created an experiment that would collect that data and then
selected the appropriate probes.”
Next they talked about how often to test—should it be every five
minutes, or every five seconds? Sometimes they would make a decision
I might not think is good, but I let them experience that,” he added.
“For instance, when they decided to test the lake water five times
every second, they quickly found out that theres not a whole lot of
difference in the readings.”
Through this process of learning by inquiry, the students quickly
began to understand why an experiment's parameters made sense or
should be altered. “you could see the excitement on their faces,”
Muri said. “They could make instant connections between the water,
the probe, and the mathematical concepts in the graph or table.
Seeing that connection is a must. Many times we as educators hear the
question, "How am I going to use this in real life?' Well, here it
is. They have a concern about our lake, and they're using a
mathematical concept, as well as scientific investigation, to help
them resolve a real problem. We call it 'authentic learning.'”
Getting to higher-order thinking skills is sometimes difficult in
traditional experiments because of all the preliminary steps, needed
to get to that level. “With eProbe, we can move to that level at a
much quicker pace,” Vitale said. “It takes away some of the menial
tasks that have nothing to do with learning, such as drawing the x
and y axes on the graph. We can move instantly to the critical
thinking skills we want our kids to develop.” Technology tools
facilitate learning Only the best is good enough for the students at
Celebration School. Celebration is the realization of a dream Walt
Disney had 30 years ago for an ideal community—a place where people
would live, work, play and be educated. This new K-12 showcase school
hires topnotch teachers, institutes innovative educational practices
and provides teachers and students with leading-edge technology tools.
“Celebration is using technology in all the ways educators have found
to be most productive,” Muri said. “Before the school opened for the
first time last year, we researched for five years to identify the
best practices in education. We believe technology is a tool that
enhances the educational process, so our students are surrounded by
various types of technology that enable them to experience the world
in new and unique ways.” All students have email access, and much of
the information they share with St. Louis is sent via email,
including text, graphs, digital images, and QuickTime¨ movies of the
lake environment. Celebration and Lewis and Clark set up a remote
server to allow both locations to download information. They also
publish Web pages so they can easily monitor each other's progress.
the Web pages will be available to the public next year.
“If you look at what students are experiencing in schools across the
country today, you don't find a whole lot of scientific investigation
at the elementary level,” said Muri. “But it's my philosophy and
Celebration School's philosophy that students need to learn by
experience. eProbe adds the experience element that is sometimes
missing from science in a book or lecture. “Plus it allows us to
travel where we want to go. We can learn anywhere, anytime, anyplace
because of this tool. If science happens to be in the middle of a
soccer field, we can go there. If it happens to be in the middle of a
wetlands area, we can go there too—and easily take all of our
equipment—to conduct the experiment we need. That's powerful

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Received on Thu Jul 6 12:02:32 2006

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