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Pros: A dynamic low-cost way for students to gather and analyze physical science data.
Cons: Students may get stuck initially, but by following the tips they'll figure out this innovative tool.
Bottom Line: Use your smartphone to gather data and study speed, gravity, waves, and other physics concepts.
High school and middle school physical science (and math) teachers can use Lab4Physics to help students practically apply concepts in their classes. Have the students use the pre-designed experiments first to help them figure out how to use the tools provided by their devices. Then empower them to design their own investigations.
Math teachers might show four different linear graphs to their students. Then, have students use the speedometer tool to create those same four graphs. By physically moving faster or slower, students will learn what slope actually means.
Lab4Physics uses the accelerometer, camera, and microphone already built into smartphones (and tablets) to gather data for physics experiments. Some of the topics include Movement, Waves, and Force and Energy. Students can select a pre-designed experiment to puzzle through questions such as “How many people does it take to move a school bus?” Or, students can use tools such as the sonometer or speedometer to design and conduct their own experiments. Either way, students will need inexpensive materials such as string, tape, and pebbles to conduct the investigations. Each student group will use the app on a device to gather data in real time.
The Teacher's Resources site is a portal where you can find tips from other teachers, letter templates to send home to parents, tutorial videos, and other helpful support. Along with the lesson plans provided on the site, teachers can create their own experiments.
Lab4Physics is an incredibly low-cost way for students to design and conduct physical science investigations. Equipping a physics lab with sensor tools and software can cost districts over $5,000. This app accomplishes many of the same things using the smartphones that students already have in their pockets.
An extensive teacher resource website provides activities aligned to the Next Generation of Science Standards. Whether spinning like a tornado using the accelerometer or transforming their phones into pendulums, students are gathering real-time data themselves. After using tools such as the accelerometer, students can manipulate the way the data is represented, looking at acceleration, velocity, or position over time. This tool embodies a shift in science where students are the ones actually doing the science and figuring out the best way to make sense of and share their results.