Over the past several years, the use of scientific probes is becoming more common in science classrooms. The goal of teaching with these science probes is to engage students in inquiry-based learning. However, they are often complicated and stationary, forcing experiments to remain in the classroom and limiting their use. The Internet System for Networked Sensor Experimentation (iSENSE) was created to address these limitations. iSENSE is a web-system for storing and visualizing sensor data. The project also includes a hardware package, the PINPoint, that interfaces to existing probes, and acts as a probe itself. As the mobile phone industry continues to advance, we are beginning to see smartphones that are just as powerful, if not more powerful, than many desktop computers. These devices are often equipped with advanced sensors, making them as capable as some science probes at a lower cost. With this background, this thesis explores the use of smartphones in secondary school science classrooms. By collaborating with one teacher, three custom applications were developed for four separate curriculum-based learning activities. The smartphones replaced existing traditional tools and science probes. Some data collected with the smartphones were uploaded to the iSENSE web-system for analysis. Student use of the smartphones and the subsequent scientific visualizations using the iSENSE web-system were observed. A teacher interview was conducted afterward. It was found that a collaborative design process involving the teacher resulted in the successful integration of smartphone applications into learning activities. In one case, the smartphones and use of iSENSE did not improve the students' understanding of the learning objectives. In several others, however, the smartphones out-performed traditional probeware as a data collector, and with the classroom teachers guidance, the iSENSE web-system facilitated more in-depth discussions of the data.
American Association for Artificial Intelligence - March 23, 2010
The Internet System for Networked Sensor Experimentation (iSENSE) enables users to store sensor data on the web, view data from other contributors, and combine data from multiple sources to examine regional, national, and global phenomena. Intended for educational use and citizen science applications, the system is compatible with a wide range of classroom probes and sensors. We have also prototyped a custom data-logging device—the Portable iSENSE Network Point, or PINPoint—which features on-board sensors, a GPS receiver, and a connector for external probes. By pooling their data on the web, users can create an expanded sensor network and engage in collaborative research on STEM topics ranging from human health to environmental science and energy conservation.