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Success Story out of the ED/IES SBIR Program: PocketLab Notebook by Myriad Sensors

Pocketlab Notebook


In prior research and development supported by NSF SBIR, the project team developed PocketLab, a small wireless sensor that students use to collect and transmit scientific data using Bluetooth to a smartphone, tablet, or computer. In the ED/IES SBIR project, the team developed PocketLab Notebook, a web-based dashboard that presents data captured by PocketLab sensors on scientific properties such as altitude, speed, and temperature. A student portal includes a virtual lab notebook to guide and document hands-on activities; data analysis tools to analyze, graph, and interpret student-collected experimental data; and collaboration tools to share group lab work. A teacher dashboard provides administrative controls, student progress monitoring, a community network of lessons and activities, third party software integration, and a point feedback system. PocketLab Notebook aims to increase student engagement and learning with the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices, specifically standards to analyze and interpret data.

Research and Development:
During Phase I in 2017, the team developed a prototype dashboard that presents data from experiments where sensors measured the scientific properties of altitude, speed, and temperature. Researchers worked with three middle school science teachers and 350 students to determine that the prototype operated as intended. Teachers reported that students engaged in productive scientific conversations as they worked on their lab reports using the prototype. Most students reported that they would be interested in completing more science investigations using this method.

During Phase II in 2018, the team fully developed the back-end data Notebook system to present results from PocketLab experiments, the portal to provide access to user generated lessons, lab templates, and activities for participating classrooms. All Notebook components were developed iteratively, with regular feedback from educators and students informing refinements. After development concluded, researchers conducted a pilot study of the PocketLab Notebook. Due to the COVID19 pandemic and challenges in conducting research in schools, the study was modified, and the final sample included six classrooms with six educators and 99 students that used PocketLab Notebook over several weeks. Descriptive findings supported the usability and feasibility of PocketLab Notebook, as all six educators reported feeling prepared and confident to deliver the intervention, the NGSS-aligned lessons were easy to use, and five of the six teachers agreed that they would teach more investigations using PocketLab Notebook regularly, with one choosing "neither agree nor disagree." While drawing inferences on the promise of PocketLab Notebook was not possible due to the sampling restrictions, students in the treatment classes scored statistically higher on the proximal, researcher designed, post-assessment of student science and engineering practices.

Path to Commercialization:

PocketLab Notebook has been used in 1,300 districts and schools in 63 countries by over a million students in grades 3 through college. In 2022, PocketLab entered commercial partnerships for Notebook with content providers including OpenSciED, educational publisher Kendall-Hunt (read here), and ISS National Laboratory (read here). In 2022, PocketLab released a comprehensive high school science product through a partnership agreement with Conceptual Academy and now offers three textbooks (Conceptual Physics, Conceptual Chemistry, and Conceptual Biology) through the Notebook platform.

In March 2020, during the COVID19 pandemic, PocketLab hosted a virtual unconference called Science is Cool ("SciC") to provide innovative resources that educators could use for remote teaching and learning of science. The first SciC featured PocketLab Notebook as well as several other innovations, including those funded by ED/IES SBIR. PocketLab has since hosted ten live SciC virtual events which have been attended by more than 100,000 educators. See here for more information on SciC.

Industry Recognition:

  • U.S. Patent 10,690,493, "Wireless sensor device and software system for measuring linear position of a rotating object."
  • U.S. Patent 10,075,623, "Synchronizing wireless sensor data and video."

PocketLab Featured at the ED Games Expo:

  • 2021 — PocketLab produced a Master Class for Educators featuring a hands-on physical science challenge, where a group of students design homemade coolers to simulate keeping the COVID-19 vaccine at the required temperature over a period of time. Watch Here.

Follow On Funding:

  • ED/IES SBIR Phase I award in 2020 and a Phase II award in 2021 to develop Taylor AI (video demo), an artificial intelligence engine to provide formative feedback to students as they engage in PocketLab physical science experiments.
  • ED/IES SBIR Phase I award in 2021 and a Phase II award in 2022 to develop G-Force (video demo), a product where students play with a matchbox-sized car that includes a sensor that tracks scientific data.