Denise Thompson

Orting High School
Orting, WA

Project Description:

Thompson’s winning program idea, “Environmental Monitoring Using Student Constructed Sensors.” is a problem-based project that will allow students to construct and calibrate their own temperature, pressure, conductivity and turbidity sensors based on SENSE IT (Student Enabled Network of Sensors for the Environment using Innovative Technology) designs. They will then design and conduct an environmental field investigation in the Carbon River, which runs behind the school, using their sensors. Students will practice collecting environmental data from the community. Through the program, students also will be able to read a simple electrical schematic and construct using increasingly complicated circuits involving resistors, amplifiers, circuit boards, and LEDs. They will then calibrate their sensors by collecting controlled data, graphing the data, finding the line of best fit and then programming a LEGO NXT to use the algorithm. During the program, they will learn how to calculate the precision and accuracy of their sensors, design and conduct an environmental experiment, and then communicate their findings through a written lab report and oral presentation. Thompson, who lives in Puyallup, hopes her STEM-based program will help increase the students’ environmental stewardship and draw them deeper into learning as a result of experiencing something they never have none before.