Professional Development

Utilizing Probes in the Classroom By Alec Parker

The Educational Benefits of using Probes in the Classroom

There are many wonderful benefits that students get, both young and old, when teachers allow them to utilize probes in the classroom. First and foremost, by utilizing this type of technology in the classroom, you are getting a wider range of students excited about science and scientific inquiry. Students who get the chance to use probes in the classroom, are being given opportunities that they may have never experienced before in their lives. For instance, I’m a third year teacher, who is not a science-oriented person, and for the first time in my life, I was given the opportunity to use scientific probes in a graduate level course. By using the probes, I was able to closely interact and connect with the materials and fully understand the science involved in the experiment.

When using probes in class, students are exposed to scientific technology that most people just don’t get a chance to use, except for scientists. These new opportunities allow the students to make deeper connections with science and student interest in the given scientific concepts increases dramatically. When you incorporate probes and inquiry into your classroom, you are moving away from the traditional classroom model, which is filled with lecture and textbooks. Incorporating probes and inquiry allows for a more engaging classroom with STEM at the forefront. Allowing students to explore through use of technology and inquire will ultimately help prepare them for life in the 21st century. You are building higher order thinking skills, which are vital to success in the modern world.

Research has shown, that students who use probes and other technological tools for experimental use periodically score significantly higher on standardized science exams compared to students who either get minimal or zero chances to experiment with probes. With so much emphasis on high stakes testing, utilizing probes in the classroom is a great way to get your students ready for the rigorous testing to come. In conclusion, probes pique student interest in the field of science, as well as provide them with learning opportunities that are not met in a traditional science classroom.

Vernier Probes: Stainless Steel Temperature Probe

In today’s world, there are many exciting and wonderful probes that are offered through Vernier, as well as other companies that can easily be implemented into your classroom. The stainless steel temperature probe is one piece of technology that is quite versatile. In addition, it is cost effective, costing you only $29. You don’t have to be a high school science teacher to use the temperature probe. With the right type of planning, this probe is appropriate for most grade levels. Additionally, it can be used for chemistry, physics, biology, earth science, and any other subject area, in some capacity. To fully get the best use out of this Probe, I’d recommend buying some sort of compatible software that the probe can be hooked up to and then plugged into a computer or laptop so your students can collect accurate data every few seconds, such as the Logger Pro Software. The thermometer is very accurate and can read temperatures from -40 to 135oC. Since the thermometer is stainless steel, it is chemical resistant and depending upon the chemicals you’re working with, it can stay submerged anywhere from five minutes to two days. The stainless steel temperature probe is durable, easy to use, accurate, and inexpensive - making it by far one of the best thermometers on the market for temperature projects.

For more information on the Stainless Steel Temperature Probe, go to:

Using the Stainless Steel Temperature Probe in Middle School Science:

The stainless steel temperature probe is perfect for middle school students. It can be utilized for projects and at science fairs. The probe can be used to monitor environmental conditions inside and outside the school. Since many teachers have fish tanks within their class, the students can monitor the temperature of the fish tank quickly and efficiently by using the temperature probe. During the winter months, students can measure the warm air entering the classroom through the furnace and in the spring, you can measure the cool air blowing out of the air conditioning unit. Students can also measure the temperature of their hands. When it comes to using the temperature probe, the sky is the limit. As long as you are working with temperature, this probe is the perfect thermometer for you.

Example Lesson Plan Using the Stainless Steel Temperature Probe:

Click the link below to view a 6th grade lesson plan utilizing the Stainless Steel Temperature Probe. The lab is called “A Hot Hand” and the students use the temperature probes to learn about body temperature. More specifically, they measure the temperature of their hands, and how exercise can affect body temperature.

Example of Student Work:

Procedure from the Lesson Plan “A Hot Hand”

1) Once the Probe is at room temperature, they will start to measure the temperature of the palm of the hand.

2) First, on the laptop, click the collect icon to begin the data collection. Second, the student will hold the Temperature Probe in his/her palm for 60 seconds.

1. After 60 seconds, they will click the Statistics icon on the Logger Pro Software.

2. A graph will appear and it will display the minimum and maximum temperatures recorded during the collection period. Each student will copy the data onto their Data Table.

3) Once everyone has the data, the students will close the Statistic box and go into the Experiment menu to store their data.

4) Next, the Probe must return to room temperature. Place it in the beaker and wait until it reaches the temperature of the room temperature water.

5) Use the paper towels to dry the probe.

6) REPEAT these steps for each person in your group.

7) Once all the students in the group have completed the above steps. It's time to measure what happens to your hand temperature after a short aerobic exercise. FOLLOW the same procedure as before. Depending on your group #, one will either not run, run for 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, or 4 minutes. After you run, carefully place the Temperature Probe into your hand. Click the collect icon and hold onto the Probe for 60 seconds. Record the findings into the lap packet. REPEAT for each student.

Data Collection:

Student Name

Maximum Temperature oF

Minimum Temperature oF

Team Average Temperature


1) Calculate the team average for the maximum temperature. Record your results in the table above.

2) What was the range of your maximum and minimum temperature?

3) How did your maximum temperatures compare to your teammates maximum temperature?

4) How did your minimum temperature compare to your teammates minimum temperature?

5) Who had the hottest hand in the group?

6) Who had the coldest hand in the group?

Your Task:

Everyone needs to find a partner that teaches either the same grade or content area. You will be given 15 to 20 minutes to visit the Vernier website, find a science probe that works for what you teach, and develop a short mini lesson for that probe. Your mini lesson should be no more than 20 minutes and should include some sort of activity that the students will complete. You will pretend that your students already have the background knowledge necessary to use the probe, so just focus on developing a problem-based lesson for the students to complete. You and your partner will share the mini lesson.

End of PD Survey:

Thank you for participating in this Professional Development workshop. I hope it was worthwhile for you. Please take this final survey on Google Forms before you take off.