This article describes a sensor-based physical computing system, called the Data Sensor Hub (DaSH), which enables students to process, analyze, and display data streams collected using a variety of sensors. The system is built around the portable and affordable BBC micro:bit microcontroller (expanded with the gator:bit), which students program using a visual, cloud-based programming environment intended for novices. Students connect a variety of sensors (measuring temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, sound, acceleration, magnetism, etc.) and write programs to analyze and visualize the collected sensor data streams. The article also describes two instructional units intended for middle grade science classes that use this sensor-based system. These inquiry-oriented units engage students in designing the system to collect data from the world around them to investigate scientific phenomena of interest. The units are designed to help students develop the ability to meaningfully integrate computing as they engage in place-based learning activities while using tools that more closely approximate the practices of contemporary scientists as well as other STEM workers. Finally, the article articulates how the DaSH and units have elicited different kinds of teacher practices using student drawn modeling activities, facilitating debugging practices, and developing place-based science practices.
National Science Foundation
Inquiry science education, Programmable sensors in education, Sensor use in education
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Alexandra Gendreau Chakarov, Quentin Biddy, Colin Hennessy Elliott, and Mimi Recker. "The data sensor hub (Dash): A physical computing system to support middle school inquiry science instruction" Sensors (2021). https://doi.org/10.3390/s21186243