A Review of Pasco’s Wireless Sensors

I used some of Pasco’s wireless sensors in my classroom over the past two years in my high school science classes. Here’s my review of their wireless sensors with water quality testing and other applications. Pasco makes sensors and other technology for science and engineering and is a popular choice for technology in the lab.

Pasco Water Quality Sensors

Water quality testing is an important part of the curriculum of many science classes. My students test water quality not only in ecocolumns, but also when students bring water samples to class. I describe my water quality lab in this post.

SparkVue app on chromebooks gives the students immediate readings. It can also graph for change over time.

I tested Pasco’s wireless optical dissolved oxygen sensor, wireless pH sensor, wireless temperature sensor and wireless conductivity sensor in the aquatic chambers of our class ecocolumns. One of my student groups used the Pasco wireless sensors for three months of weekly data.

Pasco’s wireless pH, temperature and optical dissolved oxygen sensors

Students used Pasco’s SparkVue app for Chromebooks with the sensors. The app was easy to install on Chromebooks and easy for students to begin using. I created an instruction guide with screenshots for them. They did not need much help from me with these instructions as Pasco sensors are easy to use.

The Sensors

The optical dissolved oxygen sensor ($289) is a nice piece of lab equipment and does not need calibrating. It is waterproof–has a clear screw-on cap to keep the power button protected from water. This is nice if using in the field for a pond or stream. It also has a hook so you can lower with a string into a body of water. This sensor also has temperature so you don’t need to purchase a separate temperature sensor (but temperature sensors are very inexpensive and can be used for other labs).
The pH sensor ($65) was fairly easy to calibrate. I had to search for the calibration page online, however, as the directions did come with the sensor. I have buffer solutions of 4, 7 and 10 on hand and I only needed tow of the buffers for calibration. Calibration was easy to do on the SparkVue app.
The temperature sensor ($39) is straightforward and sturdy. The conductivity sensor ($95) is nice, because it shows total dissolved solids (TDS) as well as conductivity. This conversion from conductivity to TDS in Sparkvue is helpful for students so they don’t have to do the conversion themselves.

Powering and Connecting Pasco Sensors

Most of the sensors run on small watch batteries. This is a plus in that you don’t need to charge them, but can be a drawback as you will need to purchase batteries. Batteries last about a year with regular use. I keep a supply of batteries on hand from Amazon. I did have a lot of trouble opening up the battery compartment on one of the temperature sensors which is a downside as the plastic can sometimes warp/stick.

Most of Pasco’s sensors do not have a wire to connect to the computer. This can be a drawback if your computers don’t have enough bluetooth connections or if the bluetooth connections are not stable and its better to be wired. The Chromebooks I use currently have a lot of ports for each laptop and bluetooth wireless connectivity is not an issue.

Pasco Light Sensor

The light sensor ($69) is handy for a variety of uses. I used the sensor to gather data during the last eclipse, but lately, I’ve been using to measure light intensity of plant lights and light from my window. It’s been invaluable for me to understand how my fluorescent bulbs are holding up in my grow light units, how much light my plants actually get by the window, and how my new LED lights compare with older light sets.

Measuring the light in my grow light unit. The flourescent bulbs are 2 years old
The readings for my flourescent lights from the light sensor.
Measuring the light coming through the window in the afternoon.

Pasco Carbon Dioxide Sensor

The wireless carbon dioxide sensor ($195) has some nice features. Its design works well not only in the bottle that comes with it, but also in other empty bottles (like gatorade or vitamin water) that can be used for labs.
The sensor is also good for measuring decomposition in a bio bottle or the Pasco EcoZone System ($105). Waterproof plastic sleeves can be purchased to use to measure dissolved carbon dioxide which could be used when studying ocean acidification.

The wireless carbon dioxide sensor in the decomposition chamber of Pasco’s EcoZone.

For a review of Vernier’s wireless sensors, read this post.
For a review of Hanna’s wireless pH testers, read this post.

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