I teach high school physics and I use a lot of expensive probeware to collect data. The only reason I can do this is my school has been collecting the probes over a number of years, building our collection slowly over time. For those who aren't science teachers, probeware refers to a collection of interfaces used to connect a variety of sensors to a computer or graphing calculator. These interfaces can allow for real time data collection and graphing or can serve as data-loggers collecting data over time.
The two largest vendors of educational probeware are Vernier and Pasco:
Personally I still do some of the activities listed below even when I have access to more expensive sensors.
If you have a computer you can take a variety of data using only the microphone port. If you're nervous about potentially burning out the sound card built into your computer you can get a USB Sound Card for under $10.
This section will be growing. Arduino is a relatively cheap microcontroller platform. It has 6 analog inputs with a 10-bit resolution. So far I've only documented a proof of concept project. I've had students develop other senor based projects, but they are mostly still working on them. As they are completed and documented I will post them here. SparkFun now offers educators a 20% discount, so it's now even cheaper to do this.
ComicLife to create illustrated guides intended to walk teachers through how to do the activities listed above as handouts for my presentation at the NECC in 2007. These are all in pdf form.
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