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Coding and Calibrating with BOP + BioBase at “Eco-STEM: Digital Tools for Environmental Monitoring”

By Heather Flanagan
April 6, 2016
Oyster tanks and Brooklyn-based Atlas Scientific calibration solutions

Oyster tanks and Brooklyn-based Atlas Scientific calibration solutions

If you want to take a one-time measurement of, for example, acidity, it’s fine to pull out a little pack of pH test strips.  When you want to take 1,000 or 1,000,000,000 measurements, you’ll need to grab something a little more robust.  This month, teachers attending the second session of a four-day, hands-on intensive professional development session with BOP and BioBase called “Eco-STEM: Digital Tools for Environmental Monitoring” learned how to use the right tools for the job.  The course teaches teachers how to build, code, and operate a state of the art DIY water quality sensor array using Arduino microprocessors and Brooklyn-based Atlas Scientific‘s probes and circuits. In session two, the focus was on introductory Arduino coding and setting up the pH sensor, the first of four probes to be plugged into the board. 

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Teachers spent the morning learning Arduino Interactive Development Environment and basic “sketches.”  In the afternoon teachers learned to calibrate the pH sensor before using it to collect live data from the classroom tank.

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Calibrating the pH sensor while it’s hooked up to the Arduino.

Some acids and bases for the teachers to test using their newly calibrated pH sensors.

Some acids and bases for the teachers to test using their newly calibrated pH sensors.

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Taking pH measurements of the water sample from the classroom tank.

Taking pH measurements of the water sample from the classroom tank.

Teachers also…

…practiced testing phosphate levels:

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…calibrated a refractometer:

Mollie of BioBase working with teachers to calibrate a refractometer, which uses the reflection of light to measure salinity (by measuring the angle at which the light bends).

Mollie of BioBase working with teachers to calibrate a refractometer, which uses the reflection of light to measure salinity (by measuring the angle at which the light bends).

…and got ready to feed some oysters a meal of 10ml of Shellfish Diet 1800 diluted in 100ml of cold water!

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Teachers will have the opportunity to practice using the equipment and techniques they learned during the PD over the next month in their own classrooms.  Next month, teachers will finish assembly and programming of the water quality sensor kit with all four probes (dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, and salinity), deploy the kit in the oyster tank, and collect/analyze data.  In the afternoon, participants will test out various BOP data analysis lessons and student-centered activities.  

Interested in reading more about BOP-CCERS and how we’re bringing hands-on restoration science to classrooms all over the city?  Sign up for our newsletter and click here to read all BOP-CCERS posts!