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Meet Your Probeware Host...

David Masterman, Ph.D.
Lakeside School
14050 1st Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98125
email: davem@simba.lakeside.sea.wa.us

Computer interfacing has interested me since 1982, when I obtained my first Apple II computer. Those simple computers were capable of amazing feats -- they made interfacing possible and affordable. While attending a 1983 Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Summer Institute for Chemistry, I was encouraged to develop computer interfacing applications and software by my fellow participants. One of the computer programs I introduced was designed to analyze, graph, and report laboratory data. As time progressed, the programs grew more capable, and students were able to have the computer assist them as electronic lab partners. The computer could:

  • collect data over very short or very long time spans,
  • mathematically treat the measured data
  • graphically represent the data
  • provide instant feedback to students on their experimental results.

As a result, the company MasterComp came into being. While teaching full time, I designed, manufactured, and distributed interfacing hardware and software, and also wrote and distributed a laboratory manual of chemistry and physics experiments which made use of computer interfacing.

The laboratory data analysis software, now called Lab Partner, became so favorably accepted that Glencoe/McGraw Hill is currently distributing it as an integral component of their middle and high school science programs.

In 1991 my school was using Vernier's computer interfacing equipment with great success, and the folks at Vernier were serious about making high quality probes and sensors specifically for the biology laboratory. I set to work designing a variety of lab experiences that were significantly enhanced by using computer interfacing. Subsequently, Vernier asked me to author a book of laboratory experiments in biology. That book, entitled Biology with Computers, will be available in the summer of 19 9 6.

In this exchange, I will share with you many of the experiences and hard-earned lessons I've learned and open a dialog among all of us -- novices and experienced practitioners alike. This avenue of communicating is extraordinary and powerful. Our students will surely reap the benefits as we learn from each other.

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