Phyphox – RWTH Scientists Turn Your Smartphone into a Physics Lab

12/09/2016

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Researchers at the 2nd Institute of Physics at RWTH Aachen University have developed an app which gives pupils, students and all interested citizens the opportunity to conduct experiments on their own and to get hands-on experience with data acquisition and analysis. “Phyphox,” short for “physical phone experiments,” uses the various sensors integrated in modern smartphones, such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, and pressure sensors, as a basis for a broad range of experimental measurements.

 

The accelerometer and gyroscope of a smartphone, for instance, can be used to track the movement of a pendulum and determine its angular velocity. The speed of an elevator can be measured by exploiting the pressure sensor. Moreover, the smartphone can be turned into a sonar capable of measuring the distance between objects.

"The idea of using an app for teaching goes back to 2015 when I started playing with my smartphone's sensors, performing some simple physics experiments at home," explains Professor Christoph Stampfer. The newly developed app with its enormous pedagogical potential was subsequently created under the leadership of Dr. Sebastian Kuhlen.

"Phyphox is a great tool for students to conduct experiments on their own and to get hands-on experience with data acquisition and analysis. It allows for modern education methods like the flipped-classroom concept, as it gives students the opportunity of performing experiments instead of watching them. And this is possible even in a large classroom."

Smartphone-based experiments are suitable not only for physics students, but also for school pupils and teachers, and for everyone interested in learning more about the laws of nature. They represent a cost-efficient alternative to the expensive equipment required for many experiments.

Project leader Kuhlen explains the features distinguishing phyphox from other apps: "All data is analyzed directly on the phone and can be monitored and presented in real-time on a computer, a tablet, or a second smartphone. You can also control the experiment from the second device, and create your own experiments with an editor."

The app is available for free on Android and iOS.

Source: Press and Communications.

 

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