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Educators Review: PASCO Scientific's Hydromania Activity Kit

This review reflects the observations and experiences of independent teacher volunteers, and is provided as a service to Education World readers. The review in no way constitutes an endorsement of the product or its manufacturer by those teachers or by Education World.

ED-u-rateRecently, Education World asked members of our product review team to check out elements of PASCO Scientific's Hydromania Introductory Bundle, a science activity kit designed to teach students about the properties of water. The bundle our reviewers rated included a Pasport Temperature Sensor, DataStudio software, and the Properties of Water Teacher Resource Kit. Our reviewers checked out this science activity kit in actual classroom situations, rated it on a scale of 1-4, and shared their thoughts about its strengths and weaknesses. Discover what they had to say. Included: Comments about how the product functioned in actual classroom situations.

Recently, Education World asked members of our product review team -- all teachers or educational technology specialists -- to check out elements of PASCO Scientific's Hydromania Introductory Bundle, a science activity kit designed to teach students about the properties of water. The bundle our reviewers tested included:

  • A Pasport Temperature Sensor, which allows students to conduct -- in or out of the classroom -- a wide range of experiments, including general temperature experiments and experiments that measure rapid temperature changes in endothermic-exothermic reactions.

  • a USB connection-port

  • DataStudio software, which collects, displays, and analyzes scientific data, automatically graphs the results, and allows students to analyze those results, manipulate the data, and compare relationships.

  • The Properties of Water Teacher Resource Kit, which is one of four Hydromania Teacher Resource Kits. Each kit presents five investigations into water properties and quality, and each investigation follows a three-part approach: 1) exploratory activities, 2) laboratory exercises utilizing probeware, and 3) culminating activities that allow students to synthesize knowledge and skills. Kits include teacher information pages, DataStudio workbooks on CD, student response sheets, sample student responses, fact sheets and posters, student instruction sheets, and team response sheets.

    In the Properties of Water kit, students study key properties of water, including capillary action, surface tension, Hydrogen bonding and water's high specific heat capacity through the following investigations:

    • The Great Dissolver: Explore the properties of water that make it an outstanding solvent, using conductivity as an indicator.

    • Sticky Water: Investigate capillary action and surface tension.

    • Altered States: Measure temperature as water changes its physical state.

    • Misbehaving Water: Discover the surprising density characteristics of liquid and solid water.

    • What's Hot About Specific Heat?: Compare the specific heat capacities of water and soil.

Reviewers were asked to use the temperature sensor, software, and teacher resource kit in actual classroom situations for a period of at least one month, note specific strengths, weaknesses, and/or quirks of the bundle, record personal observations -- both positive and negative -- and rate various qualities of the program on a scale of 1-4.

The results are in -- and this is what our reviewers had to say!

Click here to see educators' reviews of other products including Kidspiration, Timeliner, Graph Master, Adobe Photoshop, NetSupport School, NetOpSchool, FlashMaster, and more!

"Thanks for the opportunity to do this evaluation. My students loved the software and probes! I will highly recommend this product to my peers and administrators."

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"I liked how the toll-bars had similar icons that students used in other software/programs. This made student navigation through the labs very easy."

"The USB-connection port is a true bonus! No confusing converters and extra wires as in other probes/software packages."

"This type of program would best work with every 3-4 students having access to a computer with probes and program. For a class of 30 students, that would mean setting up ten workstations in a lab. The value of the hands on experience and manipulation of the data would be lost if this were used on a big screen workstation in the classroom."

"The teachers both loved the equipment and materials and lessons."

"First, we boiled some ice cubes. We automatically got a phase diagram for H2O. It was very simple to do. We saw the temperature level during the phase changes. Then we added some salts to some room temperature water and watched the temperature changes from the heats (or "coolings") of the reactions. Everything worked simply and without reading the instructions!"

"There may be one, but a device to keep the probe from touching the bottom of the beaker would be nice."

Do you agree with our reviewers' rating of PASCO Scientific's Hydromania Introductory Bundle? E-mail [email protected] to share your experiences with this science activity kit.

"We are currently looking at purchasing this software/probes to outfit our entire science department. This would provide consistency from 10th -12th grade in the probes that we use and the software that students use. Currently, we are using all kinds of different probes/software with no consistency."

"I was pleased with the entire package of hardware and software and their compatibility. Would like to check out the pH probe, and some others too. Our science department here at school is interested in the system because of its simplicity. Will do some more research on it. Thank you for the preview."

"We used the probes to collect data about changes in temperature of different substances. We compared water and sand (under a heat light to simulate the sun) to determine which absorbed and then retained heat best. We are planning other activities as well."

"Students were very excited about getting to use the probe. I think we're planning to order some of these to have enough for each lab group to use them."

"There was no question about the students' accuracy. When using standard thermometers, they often have a very difficult time getting accurate readings. That doesn't mean we won't use thermometers and still teach the students to read them; we'll still use the "old way," but we will be able to save time and focus on the concepts being learned when we move on from the basics of reading thermometers."

"I think this is an excellent tool for any science classroom. It allows students to use real scientific equipment for accurate, real-time data collection."

"The ability to manipulate the graph to illustrate the concepts was amazing."

"Since the system uses a USB connection, I suspect it is not likely to work with older machines running Windows 95. We've had many problems with USB connections on our Win95 machines with other peripherals. I was using the probe on an XP machine and had no problems."


"Install worked very smoothly. No problems noted."

"Installation was a snap -- very user friendly and easy to follow with the wizard! The software was easy to install; the probes were even easier to install!"

"Only one spot in the installation was unclear: The software works with Win95 and up, but PASPort only works with Win 98 and up. I switched to a W-2000 computer and everything worked as expected. The label to "install the software first" on the USB cable was a great idea.... Some people (not me!?) might not go through the instructions first! I suggest putting an "Open me first" label and having a consolidated "Quick Start" sheet for the typical user."

"I had no problems installing the program or attaching the hardware."

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"Students loved this type of program for many reasons. The lessons are clear and the directions were easy to understand. Also, students love the use of the innovative technology with probes and software to support them."

"The lessons are well organized and follow very closely the skills we are required to teach in middle school science. The lessons were well prepared and right on the middle school level as well."

"The content was great for my college bound Biology 1 classes. The students mastered the new software faster than I did!"

"We used this product for two activities from the Measuring Matters Teacher Resource Kit: "When You're Hot You're Hot" and "Extremity Remedy." Both labs were very fun and easily mastered. The students really enjoyed watching the temperature increase on a laptop, as compared to reading an alcohol thermometer. Both labs were a complete success; they were simple enough to explain complex ideas."

"Good manual -- very readable. The 3-ring format of the manual was good. The laminating was also a good idea."

"The documentation was very helpful. The HUGE binder of activities is very useful to teachers planning lessons and activities around this product."

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"Performance was great. No problems with speed or collection times. These two issues have been a problem with other software we have used."

"Very intuitive... didn't need manuals (much)."

"The program worked as expected. It recorded the data from the probe and instantly produced graphs to illustrate the data."

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"We used the software for two labs that helped to expand upon the lecture material. This was a great hands-on experience and extension to our current lesson."

"Good job! "

"This program allows for very accurate, instant data collection that really helps illustrate a variety of science concepts. This is much better than trying to do the same experiments with traditional equipment. The accuracy, speed, and sampling rates really allow students to focus on the concepts to be learned instead of on the equipment."

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"I didn't need or seek any support!"

"I called customer support with the question of Windows 95 compatibility, and was connected and had my answer within two minutes! It was great."

"Technical support is available, but I did not need it. I did look through the help files and they seemed to be comprehensive but again, I didn't really need them since I had no problems with the product."

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Article by Linda Starr
Education World®
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