“I always do what I can’t do. So I can learn it.”

Pablo Picasso

Let us briefly recall that according to the theory of constructing a lesson using the STEM methodology, “Knowledge is not transferred, it is created.” For easier memorization, the entire lesson is divided into 5 parts. Each of the parts can be indicated by an action verb addressed to the teacher.

  1. Wonder why you need it
  2. Explain how it is researched and measured
  3. Warn about dangers and how to eliminate them
  4. Let me try to make my own
  5. Check mastering through joint analysis.

See the 5E STEM Lesson Planning article for more details.

But before you decide to make a STEM lesson visual, you need to prepare it and choose the equipment with which the process or phenomenon can be felt through personal experience.

So we know the subject. Digital labs help make the lesson interesting. Based on the topic, we select the equipment and then the most difficult thing is to draw up a lesson plan so that it matches the STEM methodology and fits into the time frame of the lesson. In this case, the teacher must first figure out how it works, and then effectively show what the equipment used proves.

Let’s take a look at the steps using the training kits from PASCO SCIENTIFIC products. The selection algorithm is generally similar for many manufacturers. Products on the site are grouped by subject and level. For example, products on the subject of biology for high school.

The main difference between different manufacturers, in addition to price and quality, is the selection of didactic materials for teachers prepared by the manufacturer to facilitate the use of equipment.
If the manufacturer does not have didactic materials, they will have to be compiled by themselves. And this is your time.

Didactic material

Start by visiting the digital library of manufacturer-prepared materials. The PASCO SCIENTIFIC Library is available here.

The materials are in English – it doesn’t matter. Google Translate will help. On the PASCO page at the very bottom there is a choice to enable the “G Select Language” translator. Select Russian from the dropdown menu.

On the topic of your STEM lesson, you can find additional information or lab work. Please note that materials can be compiled for the teacher and for the student. For the teacher, checklists, step-by-step process, and examples of captured data. Topics here .

For students, a presentation file with a guide to the experiment. See them in the aforementioned PASCO SCIENTIFIC library here .

In the preview file, you will see the material in the same form as it is presented to the student. Those. either as a description or as a presentation. To view the same student file, specialized software may be required. It allows you to view a file with a theme and a theoretical part of the lesson, save the results of experiments and answer control questions in it.

Sometimes didactic material is offered as a separate product. In fact, this is a set of a book and a flash drive. Their cost is usually not high compared to a set of digital laboratories per class. For example, thematic guidebooks for subject labs are available here .

Another way to search is to view a selection of equipment by experiment. For example, here you can download tables on subjects that indicate the experiment, the list of equipment and necessary consumables. Please note that the tables even indicate that the manufacturer himself does not produce or sell. For example, reagents or scissors.

Copy the name of the sensor into Youtube search. You will see not only how it works, but also experiences and ideas for use.

Data collection and analysis programs

The next important issue is data collection and analysis programs for STEM lesson preparation. How convenient and intuitive the interface of the program is made will affect the time spent for training and explanation.

Pasco Scientific предлагает на выбор две программы сбора и анализа данных: PASCO Capstone и SPARKvue. Файл с расширением .spklab открывается программой SPARKvue, и с расширением .cap – PASCO Capstone соответственно. Программы похожи. Отличия в платформах, для которых они разработаны: Linux, Mac OS, Windows, Android.  Вы можете подробно познакомиться с особенностями ПО от PASCO Scientific в статье здесь [Рус.]. Пробные шестидесятидневные версии под MS Windows и Mac OS можно скачать:

  1. SPARKvue Free Trial – here
  2. PASCO Capstone Free Trial – here

Purpose of the lesson

Now let’s move on to the purpose of building a lesson. Goals and objectives are limited by resources, which include the number of students in the class, the time allotted by the curriculum, and the budget.

The goal of a STEM lesson might be:

  • familiarity with the concept
  • the study of phenomena.

In the first case, you can limit yourself to a demonstration for the entire class at once, along with a joint analysis. In the second, it is necessary to give everyone the opportunity to do the experiment on their own.

Accordingly, by reflecting on the goal, you can outline what your STEM lesson will look like: an individual lesson for everyone, followed by a discussion, project work with the presentation of results for general discussion, pair work with subsequent verification of the results, group work, your vision.

The most common work in pairs. Let’s assume that we are also focused on digital learning and want to give everyone a try by working in pairs.


The next question is budget. For schools, there are usually two sources: the school budget itself and project funds.

Let’s consider two strategies. In the case of a school budget, there are always limits. A significant part of the order is data collection and analysis devices. So you can start by purchasing one sensor or one digital lab and figure out how to use it in a shared classroom. As a data collection device, you can use a smartphone and a camera to project an image onto a board for everyone or by connecting a digital laboratory to a smart board. Android 5.0 Smartboard models are compatible with PASCO SCIENTIFIC Digital Labs. What can significantly reduce costs, for demonstration, if the output of the collected data will go directly to the SMART board.

Ideally, from the point of view of saving time on setting up, having a complete set of identical devices for one desk or one pair. But if this is not possible, then discuss with the director the issue of obtaining written permission from parents to use students’ smart gadgets in the educational process. Usually the secretary makes an application form for parents, which is distributed at the parent meeting by class teachers. By the way, students also like this approach. And in some schools, they even legalized the use of smart devices only for educational purposes, even at breaks, through the school charter. Another motivator for students to install SPARKvue via Google Play or the AppStore for free is the opportunity to run a series of experiments with SPARKvue immediately after installation, since every smartphone has a built-in microphone and accelerometer.

Project finance provides more opportunities:

You can think about the cycle of work, combining project and group work to develop students’ social communication skills, as well as combined lessons, organizing the storage of educational materials.

In 2018, the majority of Estonian schools were approved for projects worth about 24,000 euros in one application.

Updating technologies, and with it the line of products presented, takes place with a sequence of 8 years. This is how the PASCO SCIENTIFIC devices delivered 15 years ago perform their function of teaching at Tallinn University. We recommend a replacement only if a new one will significantly save time that can be spent on data analysis. For example, before that, data had to be recorded on paper, but now in the new generation they themselves are saved to a file. If you plan to replace, ask if the official representative offers a Trade-In program, under which used devices of older generations are exchanged for new ones at a significant discount. PASCO SCIENTIFIC has such a program.

Data Acquisition and Analysis Device

Many manufacturers offer a separate series of devices for data collection and analysis. In them, you need to pay attention to a shockproof case or case, the ability to connect sensors according to the BLUETOOTH 4.0 standard or higher, as well as battery life. PASCO SCIENTIFIC offers the SPARK LXi Datalogger – PS-3600 . It has a tablet form factor in a shockproof case. An additional feature of Spacr EL-X-AI is the Lab Manager software. It allows the teacher to see the progress of students in the performance of laboratory work, prompt them personally. This software product is only supplied with Spacr LX-I.

But unlike other manufacturers, Pasco Scientific provides an opportunity for a wireless series of sensors to use third-party tablets and smartphones.

How to choose a tablet from a third-party manufacturer?

Perhaps the school already has tablets. From Apple products, all models starting from the iPad 3 will work. The work of collecting data through SPARKvue on the iPad will look like in the video below.

Tablets running Android 5.0 or higher with Bluetooth 4.0 support will also work. If they are, you need to understand whether it will be possible to use them in your lesson. It is necessary to avoid a situation where the lesson is impossible due to the banal lack of devices. In the case of PASCO, you can get away with students’ devices, but installing the program will take precious time. Yes, and having a plan “B” in your head is counterproductive. It’s like two lesson plans.

If you decide to save money by purchasing tablets and installing SPARKvue on them, then when choosing a tablet, as already noted, you should pay attention to the possibility of purchasing a shockproof case and support for BLUETOOTH 4.0. Our recommendation for 2018 is the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1″ and a shockproof case so you don’t regret the accident.

After receiving a new tablet, before using the tablet as a data collection device, you must have an internet connection to register for a Google user account for Android devices or an AppleID.

After that, install the SPARKVue program. It is free to use for both iPad and Android device owners. SPAKRvue supports 29 languages.

How to choose sensors?

On the one hand, the choice of sensors has already been made, and they are indicated in the description of the experiment. But pay attention to what sensors are offered in the manual. Progress does not stand still, perhaps the manual has been compiled for models that are still connected by wires. Just because nothing gets confused, it is more convenient to use wireless sensors.

PASCO makes it easy to understand sensor generations. Whites are the latest generation. Blue – previous. Black is first.

What to consider when choosing teaching aids for a STEM lesson

Sensors with a blue body in the PASPORT series can always be made wireless using the AirLink – PS-3200 adapter.

Now that you know which sensor to choose, you can see if it is included in the subject bundle. The subject matter training kit is good because it includes everything you need to start a lab on a specific topic or topics, including not only the sensor, but also tripods, mounts, a set of weights, etc. For instance, physics kit , which allows you to conduct up to 15 experiments. NB! The package does not include a data collection device.

Another subtle point regarding the choice of sensors. Often, the choice begins with checking the compatibility of previously purchased devices with new ones. Progress takes its toll. Even within the same manufacturer, the newer generation is not always compatible with the previous one. In university laboratories, stands from different manufacturers are often adjacent to each other. At least by the fact that it is rare when a company manages to be the best in everything. Some have better quality, while others copy and offer cheaper. Therefore, do not be afraid to have the best devices in your arsenal, even if they are from different manufacturers. In the end, one of the tasks of STEM is to teach students to quickly understand the logic of controlling various digital devices.

Next charger.

All gadgets, including transmitters for sensors, must be charged. If you have a computer at your disposal, then most likely you can connect a charging cable through a free USB port. But if there is only one computer, and there are more than 4 devices, then you may need a 10-port charging station (10 Port USB Charging Station – PS-3501).

What to consider when choosing teaching aids for a STEM lesson

Please note that when calculating the number of charges required, the PASPORT sensor series is powered by the AirLink transmitter, i.e. The PASPORT sensor itself does not need to be charged.


An important issue in the organization of training is the storage of devices. PASCO Scientific offers Gratnells storage solutions. It consists of storage boxes of 4 different sizes and bedside tables on wheels in which these boxes are installed. 



Next you have to try. When ordering, we will agree on the amount of training. Together with you, under the stopwatch, we will check that it is possible to meet the time allotted for the lesson.

For getting quotes please email ask@ste(.)education. (Don’t forget to remove the parentheses () from the email address before sending.)

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