Understanding Sensors

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This is one of a series of focused units, from the Association for Science Education and the Design and Technology Association, to introduce students to important technologies and their applications. This unit features sensors and their technological applications including:
• the use of potential dividers as a resistance to voltage converters
• sensors used as the input stage of electronic systems for instrumentation, monitoring and control.

The first part of the unit provides some contexts for the rest of the unit. Students investigate the use of switches as sensors. They also learn about the use of a potential divider as the input stage of an electronic system. Other topics covered include the use of thermistors and a Light-Dependent Resistor (LDR) as sensing components plus the distinction between analogue and digital signals. This opening part ends by showing students how to connect sensors into electronic systems.

In the second part students investigate the characteristics of a range of electrical components used as sensors. Part 3 shows them how to use characteristics. The final part provides information about a range of temperature and light sensors to enable students to select the most appropriate for their needs.

Contents
TEACHERS’ NOTES
* Plan of the unit ii
* By using the unit students will ..
* Links to other units
* Syllabus links
* Using the unit
* Information sheet: Investigating the comparator
* Investigation Planning Sheet

STUDENTS’ MATERIAL
Part 1: Sensors and switches
Part 2: Investigating electrical components
Part 3: Making use of characteristics
Part 4: Choosing sensors - some design information

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