How One San Diego Academy Used Data Loggers for a Science Experiment

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By Admin Desk

Data loggers are devices that collect and record environmental data, which has proven useful in a variety of use cases in the healthcare, science, and aerospace industries. Data loggers are also being used extensively in education to improve students’ data literacy and give them the chance to learn about natural sciences through hands-on experiences. 

Working with data loggers can improve students’ higher-order thinking skills by fostering inquiry-based learning. It can also stoke a passion for science in students by allowing them to conduct supervised scientific experiments to expand their knowledge. 

Data loggers can also teach students about the scientific process and the power of critical thinking, as well as make them more comfortable leveraging technology to solve problems. That is a skill this is increasingly important in today’s high-tech world. 

It’s no wonder that schools around the world are embracing the unique capability of data loggers to teach students tech literacy, natural sciences, and about the scientific method, all through experiential learning. One school in San Diego is using data loggers to power science experiments that teach students important principles of physics in an engaging, interactive way. 

San Diego Jewish Academy

San Diego Jewish Academy is a Jewish day school in Carmel Valley and it includes SDJA Early Childhood Center, Golda Meir Lower School, and Maimonades Upper School. The academy teaches students from kindergarten all the way through twelfth grade. Although the school is not affiliated with one particular movement of Judaism, it does collaborate with local synagogues in the San Diego area. 

SDJA takes pride in the joy it provokes in students. Head of School Zvi Weiss recalls, “On my first visit to SDJA I was struck by the sheer sense of joy that was exuded from all corners of the sprawling, state-of-the-art campus. Students were engaged in meaningful learning, collaborating and helping one another. Teachers displayed a genuine love for their craft, and more importantly, for their students.” 

Weiss notes that while the manifestations of this sense of joy varied by school, the same exuberant spirit was present from the Early Childhood Center on up to the Golda Meir Lower School, and the Maimonades Upper School. 

SDJA prioritizes intimate classroom sizes, and joyful learning environments that emphasize inquiry-based teaching methodologies. Among their arsenal of tools to keep students curious, joyful, and engaged are data loggers and other powerful technologies. The school is one among many that are using technology to revolutionize modern education.

A Weather Balloon Experiment Using Data Loggers

SDJA students recently undertook an experiment in which they successfully launched a weather balloon equipped with data loggers. The balloon traveled a staggering 90,000 feet which is the highest attainable altitude in Earth’s atmosphere before reaching space. 

The experiment was the result of a semester of extensive study and research into the principles of physics including buoyancy, gravity, and climate. Students put the knowledge they learned about applied physics into successfully carrying out this impressive experiment. 

The students worked on constructing the setting up the payload and data loggers in order to accomplish a successful launch, which incentivized them to understand some of the most fundamental principles of science. 

Despite the students’ success, the experiment didn’t end there. The students and their teachers tracked the location and landing site of the weather balloon using GPS technology that they had installed in it. Physics teacher Patrick Hagerman and his students determined that the weather balloon had landed in the mountains of Mesa Grande Tribal Reservation. 

After the weather balloon was recovered, students set to work gathering and analyzing the many different types of the data recorded by the balloon’s data logger. Students will use GPS data to track the specific flight path and velocity of the balloon throughout its journey. 

They will analyze the altitudes that it reached at each stage, the temperature of its surrounding environment from moment to moment, as well as changes in humidity logger usb and pressure. This process allows students to build on the scientific knowledge they have already developed by improving their data science skills. Students will learn to recognize patterns in data that track realities of the natural world and the laws of physics. 

As part of the process, students are encouraged to make use of data analysis software to parse the data with the help of their teacher. This integrates a computer science and software literacy element that proves invaluable for students today. 

Finally, this project is designed to spur a love of innovation and entrepreneurship in students, being facilitated by SDJA’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Thinking. The students assembled a film crew to document the entire experiment, honing their storytelling and cinematography skills. This important component shed light on the experiment and kindled in students an appreciation of entrepreneurship and innovation. 

The Importance of Data Literacy

It is difficult to overstate the importance of the crucial skills students learn in these sorts of hands-on learning experiences. Big data represents an increasingly important part of our society and economy. Being able to understand and analyze data will undoubtedly open all kinds of doors for students in the future. This article from Dickson & Data can answer many questions about this new trend. 

Moreover, learning about data loggers will likely become an increasingly marketable skill in the job market of tomorrow. Data loggers are already used extensively in the healthcare, aerospace, and supply chain logistics industries. 

For example, the pharmaceutical industry relies on data loggers to record environmental data such as temperature and humidity throughout the transportation of heat-sensitive medical products such as vaccines. Companies must keep accurate logs of this environmental data throughout each stage of the products’ supply chain journey, and data loggers are used to accomplish this difficult task. For many pharmaceutical companies, accurate data logging is a legal necessity, being required by regulatory agencies to ensure quality assurance of medical products. 

Similarly, the food and beverage industry contends with regulations that require accurate data logs be kept in order to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks. Data loggers are used extensively to protect public health and quality assurance of products. These are just a few of the many applications of big data.

Given the many opportunities that data literacy provides, it makes sense that Harvard Business Review called data science “the sexiest job in the 21st century,” as reported by the New York Times.

Integrating data loggers into experiential learning is a terrific way to prepare students for the jobs of the future.