Universitat Jaume I (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 1103-1110
ISBN: 978-84-616-8412-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
Both autonomous and collaborative learning benefit nowadays from using smartphones, tablets or other interactive devices with striking software applications. Among a bunch of capabilities, there exist mobile applications, or “apps”, for managing and retrieving information, displaying simulations, playing educational games, or sensing physical magnitudes. Physical measurements made possible by a regular smartphone range from noise or sound measurement to the evaluation of magnetic fields, since these devices usually include a microphone, a camera, a gyroscope, an accelerometer and a magnetometer.

The understanding of one-dimensional motion, in terms of factual knowledge but also concerning the conceptual comprehension of the relationship between the variables position, velocity and acceleration, can be boosted as well with mobile apps. We have developed a set of activities, which offer a clear insight into the physics of motion, involving students’ smartphones. Updated position information from a GPS-based application provides displacement data, and therefore velocity and acceleration can also be assessed. Besides, with an accelerometer application, continuous measurements can be employed to obtain acceleration, and then speed and displacement values. Contrasting the procedures related to positioning and accelerometer apps, and the computed results, is of great interest in the study of motion. For different commuter train trips, we have compared the motion information acquired with both methods. In this communication, we report our approach, with technical details and indications, provide numerical examples, and explain our pedagogical conclusions.

The proposed activities harness the resources of mobile apps for grasping the physics of one-dimensional motion. In particular, the relationships between the basic motion variables and the role of the numerical differentiation or integration processes are nicely illustrated with our scheme. We believe that the use of smartphones in Science demonstrations or in academic tasks is not only highly motivating, but also clarifying and effective for active learning purposes.