Innovation with PASCO in the Classroom

Dr. Rachelle Dené Poth
7 min readApr 4, 2024

--

Previously published on my www.Rdene915.com site, in collaboration with PASCO. All opinions are my own.

As educators, our work extends beyond teaching our content. We are preparing our students for a rapidly evolving world that is experiencing changes in the world of work, especially because of the impact of technology. There is an increasing demand for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills, with a continued growth in the number of STEM-related jobs available. Introducing STEM in all classrooms will best prepare students with the skills necessary to thrive as the world of work continues to change. Finding the right methods and tools is key.

PASCO has developed tools and resources that make STEM learning engaging, interactive, and relevant for all students. My most recent exploration of their Coding with Vehicle Sensor Technologies Kit has been a great addition to my STEAM class and is easy to get started with!

Learning about sensors and more

The Coding Kit enables students to explore physical science by designing, testing, measuring, and coding with sensors that are similar to the technology used in modern vehicles. Because the kit provides students with a hands-on learning experience, it helps them to think about abstract and complex concepts and also sparks curiosity about how things work. It places them in the lead more with problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration with classmates and engages them in a variety of beneficial learning experiences. All of these are essential skills that are in demand and will lead to success for students.

What makes PASCO different

The way that PASCO provides the materials for educators and students makes it easy to get started. The kit includes everything that enables educators and students to start right away. The kit comes with the //code.Node is a wireless device that has six sensor inputs, a speaker, RGB light, and an LED array. It’s designed to make data collection and analysis more intuitive for students, encouraging them to explore and develop an understanding of various phenomena through block-based programming. Because the device is user-friendly, it requires minimal setup and supports students so they can dive right into experiments and have more time to explore and take on the learning challenges! The //code.Node Cart amplifies the learning by giving students the chance to engage in a more immersive exploration of vehicle sensing technology and it is a lot of fun for students to work with it in class and develop an understanding of what goes into programming vehicles and leads them to think about autonomous vehicles and all of the considerations that need to be made.

The Teacher Guide is well-designed to help with setting up the code.Node. It helps with understanding the components of the kit and how to get students started. The student activities workbook provides a variety of lessons and learning opportunities for students to explore. I like how it explains concepts to students, gives them space to write and reflect, and various challenges to try to build their skills. The hands-on experiments are so valuable for students, and with everything provided in the kit, getting started was quite simple and not time-consuming.

Great resources for learning!

[Sample challenge in the student activities workbook]

There are activities like engineering turn signals and creating impact alert systems. These were exciting for students to learn about and enhanced their understanding of the science behind vehicle technology. Each activity is designed in alignment with science standards and helps to foster skills across different STEM disciplines, including data analysis, mathematics, and even language arts, as students share what they have learned and even present their findings to classmates.

[Sample pages in student activities workbook]

Taking the learning experience a step further, the //code.Node Cart transforms the //code.Node into a programmable vehicle sensing device. Students can replicate, program, and investigate automotive technology and learn about the work of engineers, which is a great way for students to explore potential careers and engage in authentic and meaningful learning!

Using the //code.Node Cart, students were able to simulate real-life engineering tasks, from programming turn signals to exploring the dynamics of crash tests. With the hands-on approach and the use of real-world scenarios, it also helps students to develop essential skills of problem-solving, creativity, collaboration and more while fostering a deeper understanding of both the technology and the engineering design process.

The Ease of Block-Based Coding with Blockly

Another great feature is its use of Blockly for coding. Coding can be scary for some, and getting started can be a challenge, depending on the type of coding program involved. However, with PASCO, the use of block-based programming language helps to simplify the coding process, which makes it more accessible for all students. By connecting visual blocks, students can build their skills in coding by first mastering programming basics without worrying about starting with something very complex. With this approach, students can shift their focus on the logic and problem-solving aspects of coding, which are crucial skills in demand in the world of work.

Engaging Activities and Real-world Applications

PASCO’s kit is full of activities that will boost student engagement as they learn about vehicle technology. Completing challenges such as engineering turn signals to designing crash test alert systems, each activity provides guidelines and support for students. The activities also promote cross-curricular connections, which is great for students to apply a variety of skill sets and knowledge in new ways. Also, the inclusion of video lessons, printed worksheets, and an interactive workbook or digital flipbook makes the learning process more student-led and accessible to all students.

What makes this unique is that students can work independently and collaboratively and have the activities book to guide their discoveries. It supports them as they work through each challenge and consider how to design their project, the coding needed, and the improvements that may need to be made, and then try again. It embraces the learning process rather than an end product. The students learn together how to improve and hopefully realize that there is always something different to try, a way to improve, and that making mistakes is fine because they are learning!

Preparing Students for the Future

Integrating activities like those in the Coding with Sensors Kit leads students to make real-world connections and understand automotive engineering and modern vehicle safety features. The code.Node kit not only educates but also hopefully sparks interest in students to consider exploring STEM-related careers, which are in demand. It makes the learning experience more relevant through real-world scenarios and applications, which shows students the impact they could make through skills in science and technology.

Learn more about the Coding with Sensors Kit and more great products from PASCO!

About the Author:

Rachelle Dené is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s Next in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is currently finishing her doctorate with a focus on AI and Professional Development. In addition to teaching, she is a full-time consultant and works with companies and organizations to provide PD, speaking, and consulting services. Contact Rachelle for your event!

Rachelle is an ISTE-certified educator and community leader and served as president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was named one of 30 12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021 and one of 150 Women Global EdTech Thought Leaders in 2022.

She is the author of eight books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “ Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU,” “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World, “ True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us,” and her newest book “Things I Wish […] Knew” is now available at bit.ly/thingsiwishedu.

Contact Rachelle to schedule sessions about Artificial Intelligence, Coding, AR/VR, and more for your school or your event! Submit the Contact Form. Subscribe to my newsletter!

Follow Rachelle on Twitter(X) and Instagram at @Rdene915

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here. Looking for a new book to read? Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks

************ Also check out my THRIVEinEDU Podcast Here!

Join my show on THRIVEinEDU on Facebook. Join the group here

Originally published at http://rdene915.com on April 4, 2024.

--

--

Dr. Rachelle Dené Poth

I am a Spanish and STEAM Emerging Tech Teacher, Attorney, Author and Blogger, Learning Enthusiast and EdTech Consultant