Put to the Test: SPARK Science Learning System

Put to the Test: SPARK Science Learning System

The SPARK Science Learning System is an all-in-one mobile device that integrates probeware with inquiry-based content and assessment. SPARK can be used as a standalone science data collection tool or it can be connected to a computer via a USB cable and used as a data collection terminal for PASCO data collection software. The teacher can assign an experiment to the class and the students can use their SPARK units and probes to develop hypotheses, collect data to prove or disprove the hypotheses, and then draw conclusions.

Pros: The SPARK comes with more than 60 preinstalled experiments. It is rugged enough to be taken outdoors and handled by elementary, middle, and high school school students. The SPARKvue software allows for the same interface to be displayed on a computer so the teacher can do pre-lab instruction to an entire class via a data projector. Additional probes are reasonably priced. The SPARK is battery-powered, so it can be used outside the classroom. The SPARK allows student to record their data directly to the device. The experiments included in the SPARK allow the student to collect meaningful data in real time. The SPARK also has helpful online educator training resources.

Cons: It would be nice to have one kit that included all the probes, however PASCO does offer kits that provide the probes necessary to perform the labs that are embedded on the SPARK Science Learning System.

Overall Impression: Science is not a study of facts and dates; science is a process. The SPARK takes this discovery process into account in a fun, easy-to-use tool.

Retail Price: $329

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