Physics Experiments with the Cell Phone

Heiko Burau

project report

Technology is developing faster and faster. Yesterday we were still speaking to the operator, today there are cell phones everywhere and tomorrow computers will fit into shirt pockets.

I am fascinated by this development and I have attempted to realize this dream already today with regard to schools. By combining the unique advantages of cell phones with conventional measurement techniques, students could conduct many experiments with their own cell phones. This can make physics accessible to everyone (who has a cell phone)! I have demonstrated for several experiments that this is possible and I confirmed using a questionnaire that enough students have advanced cell phones for more applied and modern physics lessons. I want to show that cell phones can do more than making phone calls. I found that they have become an excellent device for analyzing experiments, processing data and circulating results.

In order to push this development forward and to make a real contribution, I have developed a cell phone application MobilePhysics which turns the cell phone into a multifunctional physics device. Students can use their cell phone and my program MobilePhysics to measure voltages, record and visualize sounds, plot measurements and simulate experiments. As students / parents pay for cell phones anyway, this reduces the pressure on stretched school budgets as less measurement and data processing equipment needs to be provided for physics lessons.

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