Saturday, April 25, 2009

Using the Vernier GPS Sensor with the LabQuest

I first want to thank Vernier Software & Technology for sending me their latest GPS Sensor to review that can be used with LoggerPro 3.7 and the LabQuest. I have always had a keen interest in both science and technology and would have loved to have access to a LabQuest in my science classes when I was in school. In this day in age of technology, the LabQuest foots the bill for an easy to use handheld data collection tool. The LabQuest continues to grow as an educational tool as more and more sensors get added to the product line. I was very glad to hear that Vernier was going to release a GPS Sensor this spring that could be used with the LabQuest and when it arrived at my doors steps, I couldn't wait to give it a try. Vernier shipped me the GPS Sensor along with LoggerPro 3.7 software which incorprates some new features that can take advantage of the GPS sensor. My first reaction was "wow," when I first saw the GPS Sensor, no bigger than a USB thumbdrive that I carry with me. My first order of business was to update the system software on my LabQuest which went off without a hitch. Once the LabQuest was updated, I plugged in the GPS Sensor and watched as my LabQuest honed in on the satellities. Within seconds my LabQuest was displaying a readout of the latitude and longitude.

I decided to give the GPS Sensor a try and walked around the periphery of my home located in the Northwest part of New Jersey. I plugged the GPS Sensor into the LabQuest and pressed the Start collection button. As I walked around the property line, I watched as the LabQuest updated my position on the screen. After walking around the property line, I came back into my office and launched LoggerPro 3.7 and plugged the LabQuest into my computer. Within seconds, LoggerPro 3.7 prompted me to download the data that I had just collected. You will find LoggerPro and LabQuest easy to use and the helpful prompts will ensure that you are able to offload your data correctly to your computer. Once the data had been downloaded to LoggerPro you can take a look at your Speed, Altitude, Time and Latitude (Direction) from within the software.

One of the really exciting features of bringing your GPS data into LoggerPro 3.7 is the ability to map it. Right now there a two options for mapping your data: exporting the data in a GIS format or exporting it to Google Maps. In my instance, since I was connected to the web, I decided to export the data directly to Google Maps which was really exciting. Within seconds my route around the periphery of my home was plotted within Google Maps, which you can see in the screenshot.

The GPS Sesnor from Vernier worked really well and should give you some reason to think how you can integrate this location based technology in your science and math programs. It should be noted that you can connect other sensors to your LabQuest while the GPS Sensor is connected which makes this an ideal tool for doing field work where there is a need to have your position automatically recorded. Think about the type of environmental projects that would benefit from using the LabQuest and the GPS Sensor in the field. Certainly water quality studies are a prime candidate for using this type of technology. If you can think of some other ideas please leave a comment. The GPS Sensor is an excellent addition to the full line of Vernier sensors that can be used with the LabQuest and begs teachers to think about innovative ways to use location based data collection tools in their classrooms'.

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