The SPARK Science Learning System is an all-in-one mobile device that integrates probeware with inquiry-based content and assessment. The 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. A teacher can assign the class an experiment, 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 students. The SPARKvue software permits the same interface to be displayed on a computer so a teacher can deliver 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. It allows students to record their data directly to the device. The experiments included in the SPARK let students collect meaningful data in real time. The device also has helpful online educator-training resources.CONS: It would be nice to have one kit that included all the probes; PASCO does, however, 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.www.pasco.comRetail price: $329
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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. The SPARK can be used as a standalone science data collection tool, or it can be connected to a

Put to the Test: SPARK Science Learning System promo image

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


SPARK (Starter Programs for the Advancement of Robotics Knowledge) provides robotrelated resources to help build STEM curricula. Through SPARK, educators, parents, and registered members can access a comprehensive library of educational resources including robot-related tools, activities, events and camps, and development platforms. Price: Contact company for pricing. Category: STEM

Calypso Systems April

Calypso Systems (www.calypso has unveiled the CB-2000 networked buttonpanel controller. The powerful CB-2000 wall-mounted controller integrates classroom A/V technology, such as projectors, document cameras, and audio amplifiers. The CB-2000 can control all networked and nonnetworked devices in the classroom, eliminating the hassle of separate controls and many steps for each device. Teachers can also use Calypso’s Encore! desktop control software with the CB-2000, thus gaining easy access to A/V controls from their classrooms’ PCs, laptops, wireless slates, interactive whiteboards, and similar networked devices.

Aha!Science Whiteboard Edition

These interactive science lessons for grades three to five were designed to be used with interactive whiteboards. Teachers can use Aha!Science as either an introduction to a unit of study or a review of a unit. They can assign the activities in Aha!Science to help reinforce subject matter that was already taught.PROS: The interactive-whiteboard activities are engaging and meet national science standards. They’re simple enough that a teacher with a nonscience background can understand them, and most students will find them fun and appealing.CONS: None.OVERALL EVALUATION: has a tradition of producing and acquiring excellent products, and the Aha!Science WhiteBoard is no exception. Like other products from the company, this one is truly standards-based.www.learning.comPrice: First 10 students, $110; every additional 5 students, $60 ( 

WallVault System

Extron’s new WallVault System ( is a family of complete, centralized A/V switching and control systems designed for use with wall-mounted short-throw projectors and flat-panel displays. These economical classroom A/V systems use twisted-pair technology for transmitting signals and include network connectivity for Web-based asset management, monitoring, and control. WallVault Systems take their name from the WMK 100 Wall Mount kit, which securely mounts and conceals system components on the wall.

Calypso Control Systems

Calypso has added two configuration options to its ezRoom Classroom Bundle. With the addition of the ezRoom-100 and ezRoom-500 Classroom Bundles, Calypso’s solutions can cost-effectively address the full spectrum of classroom AV integrated multimedia scenarios, from the simplest to the most sophisticated. Leveraging an open-architecture platform, the ezRoom solution enables districts to put in place an integrated multimedia infrastructure that can seamlessly expand to match evolving teaching and technology needs. The ezRoom-100, an entry-level package, offers intuitive, reliable button control and quality audio to classrooms in which projectors, computers, and DVD players are used.

Put to the Test : Discovery Software Principalm+

allows administrators to transfer student-information-system (SIS) data to a handheld device. Because data can be accessed from a handheld immediately, the information may be used for everyday discipline, student-conduct incidents and histories, emergency preparedness, and security. Each user is issued his or her own passkey, and data can be synchronized as often as needed.PROS: The Principalm+ transfers information without using a third-party server. The software transfers data to most handhelds, including smartphones, BlackBerry smartphones, and PDAs, and soon to Apple iPhones. Users can add customizable fields. The data-download sets can be customized, such as downloading just phone numbers and health information for a teacher going on a field trip.CONS: None.OVERALL EVALUATION: One of the biggest problems administrators have is that all the student data we collect are never where we need them when we need them. Principalm+ solves this problem. Administrators can use Principalm+ to check the discipline record of a student at the site of an incident rather than having to wait until they get back to the office. They can look up a locker combination on the spot, or even a parent’s phone number. This type of application is long overdue.www.discoverysoftware.comRetail price: Based on per-student, per-module model.