As a fan of technology and lover of Science, I’m always stunned by how many truly awesome apps there are out there that can enhance the learning experience of pupils. New apps and sites pop up almost weekly which is a testament to the exciting sector within which we teachers work and proves that technology can serve to transform teaching and learning. I think it’s important to note that we have to remember that whatever you use, in terms of technology, it must fit within the context of your classroom and work for your pupils. I found this gem of an app when searching for mobile sensors and I wanted to share it with you.
It’s called phyphox
With phyphox your smartphone becomes a science lab and helps you to discover the world of physics. The beauty of this app is not only that it is free but that it makes use of all of the sensors contained within your smartphone so you don’t need any more equipment. The app is free to download and you can download it from the App store or from Google Play. If your school has a BYOD policy or allows pupils to use mobiles for learning activities then phyphox allows each pupil to conduct and collect data from an experiment using their phone or tablet.
Our mobile devices really are smart as they contain sensors that capture data from the world around us. Your smartphone has within it a barometer, light sensor, magnetometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, and a microphone. Thanks to being able to tap into the sensors on your phone you, or your pupils, can conduct investigations into speed, acceleration, magnetism, sound, frequency, brightness, pressure and orientation. Many of these topics occur in most physics curriculums so this app not only provides the opportunity to use the plethora of sensors on your device to enhance and access the curriculum, but it also gives us a great chance in teaching pupils about the importance of how technology can be a driver and tool for learning. I mean who wouldn’t want to put their phone inside a tube and roll it down a ramp and compare the data to that of a toy car, do a live doppler effect demonstration while capturing the data, measure distances through echoes or analyze the frequency and period of a spring oscillator all while using a smartphone.
Their website has a database of investigations with some of the more common experiments having video instructions so you can either dive straight in and figure it out as you go or follow a simple set of instructions. You can find a list of all of their experiments with instructions here. Other features that I like about this app is that the first time you conduct an experiment it prompts you to check experiment information to learn how to use the equipment, each of which has a wiki-page like on the right-hand side of the image below. You can also export data, save the experimental state, enable remote access (so your pupils can all see the results on the projector) and enable a timed run which can prove really useful for speed and acceleration experiments.
If you wish to challenge your students or even do things a little differently you can create your own experiment using their visual experiment editor. This generates a simple file that can be copied to your phone or shared so that you can carry out your specifically designed experiment, it is worth noting that the file will also enable data analysis to be carried out. They do advise that you watch their tutorial before using the editor as it is quite complex, you can watch their tutorial here.
Data Analysis & Remote Control
Data is a huge part of the curriculum across many subjects, not just within the Sciences, and being able to analyze and interpret data is a crucial skill we must develop in our pupils. In terms of the data you can collect with phyphox you can either look at the data live and analyze it there and then or you can export the data for analysis later on, data can be exported in the following file formats: Comma-separated values (CVS), Microsoft Excel (xls) or Tab-separated values. Not only can you choose your file type you can also remotely control phyphox from any device on the same network as your phone which lends itself well to being able to focus on the experimental procedures and then following up with interpretation. You can watch their video on remote-access here however it really is as simple as copying the URL from your device into your web-browser and away you go.
So that’s a brief overview of phyphox, I’d urge you to have a go yourself over the Easter holidays and see if you’d like to use it within your teaching in the summer term and beyond. If you’d like to know more about phyphox you can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google +.
I hope you enjoy discovering the world around you in a little more detail and using a little more physics!