Universitat Politècnica de València (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 994-1002
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
In this paper, smartphones are presented as alternative equipment for quantitative measuring in home experiments, which provide support to Physics education in first year undergraduate courses. In particular, some quantitative applications regarding the accelerometers of smartphones are going to be discussed.

Although some contributions have already been presented previously in this context, the published contributions have been on either qualitative demonstrations or using expensive and complex equipment in a laboratory environment where the use of a smartphone does not present critical advantages.

The work is designed as a set of home experiments to be developed by Physics students in first year undergraduate courses at the ETS Ingenieros de Telecomunicación de València. These projects are part of a pilot experience to develop transversal competences, as well as to achieve a deeper and better understanding on specific competences and knowledge.

The developed projects include topics such as normal acceleration measurements of uniform circular movement, acceleration measurements of pendulum oscillations, or the study of the law between acceleration and displacement in linear oscillations.

The use of smartphones in physics education has definite benefits. Besides being a measurement system with acceptable precision, students are very intrigued and attracted to the idea of using smartphones in the laboratory, discovering the different sensors and possibilities of these devices for the first time. Therefore, abstract magnitudes are related to practical quantitative procedures, which are very interesting to first year technical students, who are eager to learn about the technological fundamentals of their specialization area.

The measurement equipment configuration allows to deep further on some notions, usually approached in an abstract way, such as inertial forces and their dependence on the measurement equipment configuration. In particular, with pendulum oscillations students can compare the different results obtained when the smartphone rotates, or when it follows a circular translation movement.

The projects are designed for the students to be autonomous to set up the experiments, learn how to measure using the smartphone accelerometer, export data, and do the mathematical processing. For most of the students, it is their first time facing up such a complex task. The design includes parameter optimization to assure good signal to noise relationship, which helps students to understand the possibilities and limitations of their smartphone sensors.

Another relevant aspect is the register acquisition and processing, and its mathematical analysis. Students work with register samples for the first time, having to select the appropriate information and implement the mathematical processing with familiar tools such as Excel.
This experience has already been developed during the first semester of the academic year 2013-2014 with a pilot group of 50 students. The results show the possibilities of this approach, and its advantages when introducing practical projects in undergraduate Physics education.
Smartphones, Physics education, home experiments.