Mobile phones and tablets are not always welcome in the classroom. Also Prof. Jochen Kuhn of the Technical University Kaiserslautern was in his earlier studies primarily concerned with the negative effects of the devices on the health of biological organisms. But for more than five years now he has been exploring with his group new possibilities for using smartphones and tablets for experimentation in physics eduction.
He and his colleague Pascal Klein demonstrated in their lectures on smartphone experiments and mobile video analysis how theoretical physics lessons can be supplemented by experiments on mobile devices. For example, high-school students can use an app to record a video of how a colleague on a rolling skateboard throws a ball and the ball lands exactly where the skateboard is at the time of impact. The same app then helps analysing the trajectory.
Various apps for iOS and Android can be used for experiments in the classroom. Participants put them to work in the workshop and already after a short time good results were obtained. The lively exchange during the workshop and the fun of new discoveries proved the lecturers right: it is worthwhile to explore the possibilities of using mobile devices for physics education. The day has provided many leads and ideas.
The course was organized by the Swiss-German Physics Commission (DPK) of the Association of Swiss Mathematics and Physics Teachers (VSMP) and ETH Zurich.