Sunday, May 20, 2012

24/7 webcam Science with IPEVO

I recently received an IPEVO Point to View USB web camera and I have been very impressed with its ease of use, sturdiness and image quality. We have been using the webcam quite a bit in class for instant displaying of student work through the projector onto the board and demonstrating activities to the class particularly art based work. The image quality is sharp, clear and colour is excellent. It also shoots in low light conditions which is a bonus and with an autofocusing lens it made sense to use this webcam for our 24/7 Science lab experiment.

As part of our Science work we are looking at habitats and we were fortunate enough to be given 35 'Painted Lady' butterfly eggs which we have been looking after for the last few weeks. The caterpillars that emerged were no more than 0.4 mm long and every day the children would observe the caterpillars and record any significant changes in their size. We used the iPevo webcam at this point as a test leading up to the main event - from chrysalis to butterfly. We had hoped that the metamorphosis would have taken place during school time but nature decreed that the first butterfly would emerge early on Saturday morning. That's where technology has saved the day.

Technology used
IPEVO P2V USB webcam
5 years old laptop running Windows XP
Internet connection
Ustream live webcam streaming service

I had considered setting up Video Lan VLC player to capture the webcam output, punch it through the school proxy and stream the video feed that way. But why go through that much hassle when Ustream does it all for you and very easily with no need to look at school proxy settings. The free service displays an ad at the beginning of the stream and then after every 15 minutes during the stream but it doesn't matter when the provided feed is excellent and the webcam is pointing at butterflies. The stream is live on my class blog page as well as on the Ustream site.

The IPEVO webcam is a great bit of technology and if you are looking for a new webcam to go with your class setup then I'd look no further. It comes with a robust multi-jointed stand and the webcam itself can be detached and held in your hand too. Further details can be found on the product website. I mentioned that I used a 5 year old laptop and it's just to show that setting up a 24/7 live stream from a webcam is possible even with old kit.

So what's stopping you? You can have a live stream coming from your own school very quickly and easily. It could be a live feed of the chicken eggs in the coup in the garden, or the birds nest camera feed, the class goldfish in a tank or even just a webcam pointing into the school garden to watch for wildlife at the weekend.