Vernier & Virtual Laboratories

Executive Summary

Science teachers across the globe are struggling to find ways to effectively integrate technology into their classes.  Rather then reinvent the wheel, Vernier has found a way to replace relatively old analog laboratory equipment with computerized data aquisition equipment.  Despite the introduction of this amazing equipment, there are still some drawbacks to it:

  • It can be prohibitively expensive
  • It is difficult for students to complete experiments or investigations individually
  • The technology can be complicated and difficult for both teachers and students to use

This proposal outlines a remarkable (fictitious) device that will address all these problems.

To view this presentation visit the wiki at:



1 Ed Stuerle { 11.30.09 at 1:07 pm }

Good news for science teachers.

2 Erik Van Dusen { 11.30.09 at 5:51 pm }

Hi Ian,

This is an excellent idea. As a science teacher, who struggles to find the time and resources required to facilitate lab activities, you’ve certainly got my attention.

I think your device helps to address two of the biggest barriers to lab activities: time and resources. I see a huge market for your ‘invention’ as K-12 schools and beyond would likely jump at the chance to simplify and expand lab technologies. Also, I don’t think Higher Ed. would turn their noses at this opportunity. When you compare the cost of your device with that of the existing Vernier equipment, your selling price is very attractive. As you point out, this is almost too good to be true and might cause some problems with Vernier unless a strategic partnership is developed.

For me to invest in your venture, I need to know specifics about your business model and a little about your venture team. How much money are you looking for and what kind of return can I expect on my investment.

Overall, outstanding job. I’d give your pitch some serious consideration if such a product existed.


3 Cari Wilson { 11.30.09 at 8:46 pm }

Hi Ian,

Okay, so most of my knowledge of what goes on in a high school science class comes from when I went to high school, so take that into consideration!

For the first bit of the presentation, I kept thinking “but this is even more expensive than what schools have now!” Then I got to the black box part! I think this is a great idea you have. You have taken an existing technology that would be prohibitively expensive for most schools and created something that allows the use of the technology at an affordable price. You have obviously put a fair amount of effort and thought into the pros and cons of this venture and demonstrate a sound knowledge of both the market and the potential buyers.

As an investor, I am interested, for sure. I would want to know how much investment money you are looking for and what sort of ROI you are offering. In addition, do you have an exit strategy? Do you see the product expanding into the US and possibly further? You mention that Vernier might not be thrilled with your product, as it lessens the selling potential of their equipment, in a way. Do you see them buying you out? I like the fact that you mention that the black box will work with other equipment.

All in all, a great presentation! I would, with a bit more knowledge, be willing to invest!


4 Ernest Pao { 11.30.09 at 11:51 pm }

Hi Ian,

I’m not scheduled to review your pitch but I did take a look and wanted to say great job! As a fellow science teacher, I think these Vernier probeware are great tools to help with classroom instruction. Quite frankly, who cares about making money…we’re teachers and finding solutions to help our students learn is our number one priority. What would be of concern is costs and budgets associated with purchasing these tools for our classes. Well done!


5 Tony D { 12.01.09 at 2:15 pm }

Hi Ian

your rationale for creating virtual labs is bang on! Imagine all the time saved by creating virtul labs and demos for students to access at their leisure. Also when considering the cost of the technology needed to make these virtual labs a reality it is important to remember that completing one experiment and making it a virtual one only uses matrials once. The cost of lab materials in a science classroom can be pretty high, online labs eliminate that. I did unfortunately get bit lost with the technology that is actually going to be used to virtualize these labs. I would have to do a bit more research on the hardware involved to really make a qualified decision, a real working example would help to persuade me as well.

6 Iris Chan { 12.02.09 at 12:35 am }

Virtual labs would really be a great solution to the time and costs of conducting such experiments. The ability of technology to do this would excite many science teachers and institutions who would invest in your venture. I also think an example would be really effective.

Students would be able to get more out of science than just by reading. Very exciting venture.

7 jennie wong { 12.02.09 at 6:43 am }

Ian Doktor’s Review Pitch

Ian’s elevator pitch grabs the attention of the science teaching community. Upfront, he does acknowledge the disadvantages of the product. The pitch is not too long and has an appropriate link to get to his wiki. When you arrive at the wiki via the link, Doktor provides an executive summary which outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the pitch. His wiki looks clean and clear and the navigation bar makes for easy routing throughout his wiki. There are adequate links to get back to the home page and also to maneuver around the wiki. Ian states his target audience and identifies himself as the presenter. This useful invention is not just a stand alone product and has strength in being sold as an entire suite. An extensive product list appears on one of the pages. Ian provides a critical EVA and has incorporated demonstration videos of how the product is to be used. The demonstration is clear and zooms in close to the different menu choices that are available in the labquest. There is also information about how to use the labquest with other products in the suite and additional features such as providing a graph is shown. Finally, Ian has provided a self evaluation and provides a website where you can contact to get more information. Due to the excellent quality of this project, I would give this presentation a mark of over 90%.


8 Marjorie del Mundo { 12.02.09 at 7:25 am }


Great job with the wiki. It is well-organized and clear. The videos you included are very informative – they show the effectiveness of the product and are also convincing in making me want to invest in it. Despite the potential high cost of the product, I would invest in it if it provided a good return on investment (ROI), which it appears to do since students will be able to use the technology for years. To strengthen your Executive Summary, I think the benefits should have been outlined there rather than just highlighting the drawbacks in bullet points. Again, I really liked navigating through the wiki you created as it provided a sense of credibility for the product. I would invest in the Vernier Sensor Suite.


9 Noah Burdett { 12.02.09 at 7:41 pm }

Hi Ian,

Great presentation. I enjoyed the set up, showing how important Vernier was to the high school science setting. Letting us down by telling us how expensive it is and leaving me wishing I could have one without all the cost. The black box is a great idea. It would really reduce the costs and provided many of the benefits.

That being said, I have to say I would not invest. I think that the idea is great and maybe just a little to great. As you indicate Vernier would not be happy about the black box and the reduction in their sales. I can’t help think that vernier would develop a similar product to be sold with their sensor. If they did I think they would undercut your market and make it very difficult to continue on. Would you consider selling the idea and technology to Vernier? If you could set up a company that could support the program and work with Vernier then I would reconsider my choice not to invest. But as a competitor I think it would be to risky.

Great Job and an idea with great potential,

10 Erica T { 12.02.09 at 9:48 pm }

This is my formal review of your pitch presentation.

I really enjoyed your multimedia presentation in the pbworks site. Very engaging and nicely presented.

I have to admit that I did not know what Vernier was and wasn’t sure if that was the fictitious product. Having said that, I was very curious to move on to your full pitch because of the “hook” of providing Science teachers with more engaging lab activities.

You do a thorough job in your full pitch of outlining the benefits of the Vernier equipment. The price is definitely a drawback. Now I realize why I didn’t know what Vernier was.

As an investor I would want some kind of confirmation from Vernier that they are on board with this black box and are going to be part of the development and future technological add ons.
As a teacher: I will briefly pick on the spelling errors in your pitch. I assume that the development team would proofread before the pitch goes public. ☺

At this time, as an EVA, I would agree to talk with you about the investment opportunity in your product as long as Vernier was part of the partnership and there was confirmation there that this black box is viable and has opportunities for diversification and new technological advances.

Also, maybe if this was highlighted for consideration: If schools only needed one Vernier unit per classroom, perhaps more teachers would be exposed to Vernier equipment (because it would be affordable at one unit per teacher instead of one class set each). Then perhaps more teachers would want to utilize their products (versus the current situation which makes it cost prohibitive for teachers to use class sets of this digital analysis equipment). If I could be convinced, then I would put this in my top 3 list of investments, for sure.

11 Colin Cheng { 12.04.09 at 2:35 pm }


Thank you for taking the time to pitch us your venture. I hope that I am safely making a correct assumption that your write-up at the top is your elevator pitch and that the wiki is your longer formal venture pitch. From my understanding of the assignment, I am now to decide solely from the shorter elevator pitch, whether this is a venture that I would like to delve further into. As I only have three out of ten proposals to select from, it is unfortunate that I will have to pass on this venture for the following reasons:

* the writeup tells me a lot about the history of science equipment (in particular the Vernier line). Unfortunately, I learned very little about what you were proposing other than the fact that it improved upon defects in their models
* as one who does not teach science (other than to primary children), I am not made aware of the target audience
* your written summary does well in describing a real problem that exists. A visual presentation would have probably sold me more in presenting the possibilities of what you are “selling”

12 Eveline Yu { 12.04.09 at 6:32 pm }


As I am not familiar with science, I was less attracted to this pitch. After reading the above executive summary, I still had little information about what your product was. I was curious to follow your pbwiki presentation, more for the reasons of being confused.

When I arrived at the pbwiki, I was still confused as a non-science teacher. The front page was excellent – very clearly laid out and I went to the “start here” link immediately after.

Afterwards, I saw many equipment that I was not familiar with – but I went on to the next page anyway.

By the end of that page – I had watched 2 videos about Vernier – and was very impressed with the lab experiments. I also realized that I was looking into your venture pitch – and have stepped away from the elevator pitch.

I read your black box idea briefly – and from what I got out of it, I feel that it is a great idea. I think virtual labs, where students can work on experiments at home on their own is creative and innovative. As students are working from home in other subjects, why not science experiments?

However, I think if you gave a little more detail about this product in your executive summary – perhaps even a picture – it would have been more comprehensive for non-science teachers/administrators.

As an EVA, I would want to feel curious and excited about your elevator pitch, rather than curious and confused – when entering your longer venture pitch.

Unfortunately, first, because I am unfamiliar with the subject area, and second, the presentation did not leave me feeling confident on what I would be investing in, I would have to pass on this venture.

13 Barrie Carter { 12.04.09 at 9:03 pm }

Hello Ian:

First, your venture presentation is interesting and comprehensive, which is always appreciated by investors/venture capitalists.

The fact that the Black Box is aimed at primarily private or public academic institutions is worrisome.

There are too many factors at play: political will from administrators, teachers, and community stakeholders, teacher interest/desirability, teacher training costs (e.g. pro-d), purchase/replacement costs, foreseeable/unforeseeable technical issues, access to Internet connectivity in the lab, digital divide/last KMs issues, perpetual budgetary issues, and bureaucracy.

Indeed, I am concerned about whether the number of schools would sign up on an ongoing (e.g. annual) basis to generate some kind of ROI.

Certainly, providing quality public education is essential and a right, but there are still stakeholders behind the scene who, for reasons of money and politics, would make this investment too risky for me. In sum, there are too many players at play here.

Overall, however, I enjoyed reviewing your site and contemplating the investment side of your venture.



14 dockat { 12.04.09 at 9:24 pm }

Hi Ian,
I loved your production. I wish you were on my team when I tried to put mine together with short timelines! having said that, we are to analyze the venture from a content point of view and so when I read the title vernier and the virtual labs, I envisioned a virtual lab. However, the details show an appliance for sale with a f2f role in mechanizing the results of labwork in the classroom. So, instead of a student reading a temperature and writing it down and doing a manual temperature conversion the machine does that. So, I did go to see the video demo to help me understand how it ties in with virtual labs. I may have misunderstood the connection so please correct me if I am wrong here. I think I would pass on the EVA for now until I understood in my EVA assessment whether this is indeed a full virtual lab tool, or an appliance to mechanize labs and reduce student need to self-generate lab reports. The automatic generation of charts in the machine versus student plotting does not make it a virtual lab on quick EVA perusal. Thanks kindly for correcting me if I have misunderstood the concept here,
Best Kathleen

15 Ammar Al-Attiyat { 12.06.09 at 2:28 pm }

Hi Ian,

Excellent job you did with the detailed write up about your Black Box – Virtual Science Lab venture, I enjoyed your presentation.

I agree with the challenges you raised in the “Challenges for the Black Box” page, I think your venture should first approach Vernier for partnership. If that doesn’t work out, I would recommend you ask for more seed money to design a “generic” Black Box that would support Vernier and other competitive products (reminds me with the Recombo venture we had at the beginning of this course : )

Good luck with your venture.

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