Video Physics

One of the things I want to do in my return to the classroom is to use more inquiry-based activities for the science students. Today I had them engage in an activity in physics where they were challenged to find the acceleration due to gravity. We’ve done a few other labs involving acceleration, and they’ve used a few different techniques and pieces of equipment. Each group designed and carried out their own investigation. I’m keen to see how the different approaches pay off. In the spirit of equality, I decide that I’d play along as well, and I downloaded two apps from Vernier, Video Physics and Graphical Analysis. Each app was $4.99 (yikes!) but I was very interested in how they’d work.

I used the Video Physics app to video a student as they dropped their weight against a wall. Then, using the app, I was able to plot the path of the object as it fell. That took about 2 minutes to figure out. Then I was able to see the graph of the motion with one tap.


With another tap, I was able to send this data to the other app, Graphical Analysis. There, after about 5 minutes of fussing around, I figured out how to select a section of the line, and fit a linear equation to it. This equation (y=mx+b) also gave the m-value, which was the slope. Since this was a velocity-time graph, the slope was the acceleration due to gravity. My value came out to 9.593 m/s^2, which is pretty close to the accepted value of 9.8 m/s^2! Not bad for a few minutes with 2 new apps!


So, I think I’m a fan of these apps for physics. Now, how can I get a 6 or 7 iPads for my science classroom?! 🙂 If you’ve got an iOS device, like physics, and have $5 to drop, try these out. I’d recommend the Video Physics one for sure. I’ve already used it to analyze the launch of a toy rocket at science club this week. Too much fun.


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