Posted on

The University of Sunderland prove that real-time core body temperature (CBT) measurements can be easily collected in a cost-effective way using PASCO Scientific’s fast response temperature probes

The University of Sunderland prove that real-time core body temperature (CBT) measurements can be easily collected in a cost-effective way using PASCO Scientific’s fast response temperature probes. After a quick modification of the probes to provide rigidity, they become the ideal partner for CBT measurements, owing to their low thermal inertia and sensitivity. 

“We’ve been using the PASCO setup for CBT measurements throughout my time at Sunderland, so for at least the last 8 years. We modify the temperature probes by applying some electrical sheathing to the end 10 cm, using a heat gun to mould the sheath to the probe. The modification takes about 2 minutes and is very easy to do – the purpose is to make the end of the probe more rigid and easier for the student to insert. We do hear the occasional grumble from the students about insertion – just because it’s an alien process – but once it’s in, it’s fine! They only experience discomfort if it’s not in far enough, and we advise that they insert it up to the edge of the sheath. Using the CBT measurements ensures that we can safely monitor the students when they are exercising in the heat.


In terms of cost, we treat the probes as single use only. They are inexpensive and we dispose of them after use as clinical waste. We had thought about using other collection methods for CBT data, but the PASCO system is far less expensive, really easy to use and better suited to our budget.


Figure 1. Core body temperature measurements using the PASCO fast response temperature probes within the University of Sunderland’s Environmental Chamber. The PASCO sensor module can be seen strapped to the treadmill arm. Data collected via Bluetooth connection to a tablet running SPARKvue, outside of the chamber.


We typically interface straight to PASCO Capstone. Our academics have created templates for the software, so all the required plots and displays are pre-programmed for the students, increasing ease of use and reducing set-up time. We also make use of the flexibility that PASCO offers with data collection to SPARKvue on tablets, which is ideal for a quick setup and simple readout.


Overall, we’re very satisfied with all of our PASCO kit. The University has been a PASCO customer for many years, and we have quite a collection of sensors and experiments. On top of the temperature probes, the items we use most frequently are the force plates, goniometers, force, acceleration and motion sensors, and the dynamics tracks. In fact, every Biomechanics session we run includes at least one piece of PASCO equipment. As a BSc and MSc graduate of Sunderland, I’ve experienced first-hand how easy the kit is to use as a student, and now as staff, appreciate how easy it is to set up for labs. I can see the positive impact our PASCO kit has on the learning experience of our students.


Figure 2. Fast response temperature probe placed in ice drink. Data collected via Bluetooth connection to a tablet running SPARKvue.

I’d highly recommend the PASCO system for data collection owing to its ease of use – you just have to turn it on, and press go. Both SciChem and PASCO have been very helpful in sorting any issues we have and there’s always someone there for support when required.”


Abbie Taylor MSc, Senior Sports Science Technician – The University of Sunderland

Digital PASPORT Sensors contain an analog-to-digital converter and are automatically recognised by PASCO software when connected through an interface. Most of these sensors contain multiple sensing elements within one casing, which enables them to collect different measurements using a single interface port. Explore our PASCO PASPORT Sensors here.

Posted on

St Mary’s University extends the use of affordable PASCO force platforms by integrating them throughout their Undergraduate and Postgraduate Sports degrees*

St Mary’s University extends the use of affordable PASCO force platforms by integrating them throughout their Undergraduate and Postgraduate Sports degrees*. Whilst complementing existing lab equipment, PASCO force plates support the freedom to capture data in a range of applications both in the lab and in remote locations, and offer their students an unrivalled introduction to the study and understanding of force plate data.

Source: []
St Mary’s University is located in Twickenham in South West London, and boasts a rich history with Sport, in addition to having an extensive partner network with professional sports teams. In 2007, the University created the UK’s first undergraduate Strength and Conditioning (S&C) degree and is now internationally recognised as a leading S&C education provider.

St Mary’s has outstanding teaching facilities for their Sports degrees, and has invested significantly in industry-leading Kistler force platforms. However, exceptional data comes at exceptional prices, and student-to-equipment ratios did not support a uniform teaching delivery. Furthermore, force plate data was limited to what they could collect in the lab as Kistler platforms are embedded within the floor, and despite having a portable Kistler plate, its manoeuvrability is hindered owing to its large size and mass. This fuelled the search for a more affordable, lightweight, portable force platform. With a price that is orders of magnitude cheaper than the Kistler system, and with an established presence in peer-reviewed journals, the PASCO force platform was a clear choice for St Mary’s.

Before committing to a purchase, St Mary’s wanted to trial the equipment to ensure that it would be fit for purpose, and scope precisely what teaching content they could cover with the kit. SciChem facilitated a free trial which allowed the University to make an informed decision, and provide complete confidence in allocating funds.

With a suite of PASCO force platforms, St Mary’s can now deliver more efficient laboratory classes where all students are using the same kit simultaneously. The plug-and-play nature of the equipment and the intuitive software meant that the equipment could be implemented quickly within the labs, and both students and staff find the system easy to use. The portability of the platforms offers the freedom to collect data anywhere, both in the lab and externally – which is ideal for the MSc S&C students who are often based remotely. PASCO plates are so affordable that it is commonplace for the MSc students to have a pair for their independent research projects: two force platforms are favoured to allow for bilateral asymmetry assessment, by placing two plates side by side. Many professional sports clubs are using the PASCO system for their own S&C activity, and exposure to this technology at University level offers valuable employability skills.

“My favourite feature of the PASCO platforms is the screw feet – the threaded holes on the underside of the plates means that you can bolt them to anything. I’ve created several rigs for the plates to study force data within lots of applications, such as scrumming, rowing, punching and kicking. I’ve also been able to synchronise PASCO data with other external data streams through using the voltage sensor input in the SPARKlink interface. For example, we are able to integrate our Vicon motion capture system using a 5 V square signal TTL trigger – this voltage is also picked up by the SPARKlink and allows me to temporally sync data streams together. A basic circuit with an LED also lets us sync with 2D video capture, and the combined voltage and LED use allows us to synchronise the plates with almost any other (analogue) equipment within our laboratory. The versatility that PASCO offers us in experimental design is astounding, and at such a low cost the PASCO plates are excellent value for money. SciChem have been incredible and very forthcoming, and supported us at all stages of our investment.” – Jack Lineham BSc (Hons), Lecturer and Technician – Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences at St Mary’s University

The sturdy, glass-filled nylon platform is supported by four force beams that measure the total force acting on the platform. You can use the Force Platform to measure the static weight of a structure or person, as well as the dynamic, vertical force created when moving or jumping. The platform can be placed on a floor or tabletop to measure vertical force, and mounted to a wall to measure horizontal force. Explore the PASCO Force Platform here.

*Sport & Exercise Science BSc, Sport Rehabilitation BSc & MSc, Physiotherapy BSc & MSc, Strength & Conditioning Science BSc, Strength & Conditioning (Distance Learning) MSc, Applied Strength & Conditioning Science MSc & Biomechanics MSc


Posted on

Teachers and technicians are in awe of the PASCO Diffusion Cloud Chamber as demonstrated by Helen Rose, Laboratory Manager and Technician Professional Development Leader, at the National STEM Learning Centre

Dedicated to providing high-quality support to educators, STEM Learning is the UK’s largest provider of education and careers support across science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Delivering bespoke CPD courses for both teachers and technicians, STEM Learning has a very active role in enhancing the teaching and learning of STEM subjects and is considered one of the top advisory bodies within UK education.


Traditionally, cloud chamber demonstrations have been known to be a nuisance. With cumbersome setup methods, a great deal of organisation and planning has been required to successfully deliver this demo on a given day. One of the biggest challenges is the sourcing, handling and storing of dry ice: a hazardous substance with a short shelf life. Unable to store dry ice in a freezer (following CLEAPSS guidelines), this needs to be sourced at a time close to the delivery of the demo, leaving very little room for error. The use of dry ice for cloud chambers perpetuates running costs and preparation times that ultimately shroud this activity in a negative light.

Helen Rose
The PASCO Diffusion Cloud Chamber, as demonstrated by Helen Rose, Laboratory Manager and Technician Professional Development Leader, at the National STEM Learning Centre


As a previous School Science Technician, Helen was all too familiar with the struggles associated with traditional cloud chambers. During her role at the STEM Centre, Helen came across the PASCO diffusion cloud chamber and it opened her eyes as to how effortlessly this demo could be run with a Peltier-based system. With no dry ice requirements, radioactive processes can be demonstrated with ease, offering an avenue to change educators’ perceptions towards this curriculum-relevant demo.


“As soon as I saw the PASCO cloud chamber in action, I knew it was something that I wanted to share with the rest of the teaching community. It’s so easy to set up and it begins working very quickly, with clear tracks visible in around 10 minutes. The cloud chamber really is one of my favourite pieces of Physics equipment. We’ve had our set for eight years now and they’ve all been very reliable, living up to the high standard that you’d expect from PASCO. I recommend this cloud chamber during my CPD sessions predominantly because of the ease of preparation: it is poles apart from the laborious dry ice versions, and really nothing can go wrong with the PASCO setup, and so teachers and technicians can confidently provide this demo time and time again, with little to no notice.

We either use ours with a red tip thorium welding rod to show alpha and beta radiation, or without a source to show cosmic rays. With the large viewing chamber, the tracks are very visible, and in light of the current COVID crisis, I’m also recommending the use of a visualiser with the apparatus, to maintain social distancing rules within the classroom/laboratory. Although it is more expensive than some other versions, I’d say it is excellent value for money and budget well spent as schools will get their money back within 1-2 years from the savings on dry ice costs.

It is easily the best cloud chamber I’ve ever seen and worked with.” – Helen Rose , Laboratory Manager and Technician Professional Development Leader at the National STEM Learning Centre 


The Diffusion Cloud Chamber is used to view high energy alpha particles, lower energy beta particles, and electrons produced by gamma rays interacting with gas molecules. The Chamber allows for the viewing of cosmic rays without the need for dry ice or external illumination. Explore the PASCO Scientific Diffusion Cloud Chamber more here.