Apps: Students Tap Into Video for Physics Learning

We experience concepts of physics daily. Whether we’re walking, playing sports, driving a car, the concepts are naturally occurring all around us. What if we could capture the movement around us to learn and evaluate basic physics so that we could then learn to identify it daily in our lives?
Vernier has done just that with its Video Physics app geared toward high school students. The app, which can be used on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, leverages video to increase knowledge and understanding about physics concepts.
Students begin by recording a video that clearly demonstrates simple movement. This could mean throwing a ball back-and-forth, shooting a basketball into a hoop or watching a ball bounce. This first step allows students to begin with familiar movement and translate it into a physics concept. The results on the app turn out best when evaluating movement that is 2D.
Next, students import their videos and begin to mark the axis points along with markers for the movement of the object. Students can even set the measurement of two known points in order calculate more accurate results. While using the app, I found marking the movement points to be a bit tedious. It was difficult too to mark the points accurately with my finger. Yet, still the graphs that follow are pretty interesting.
Once all the axis and markers are set, students can view how the object move along an X and Y axis and the velocity of movement in terms of time. What’s most effective about this is that students can flip back-and-forth between the graphs and video in order to study and comprehend how exactly the object moved.
Watch how the app works in the following student-produced video was shared by a teacher in a publication by the American Institute of Physics:

These students could then couple their video in the Vernier Video Physics app with Khan Academy’s video on how to calculate an average velocity or speed to really grasp the concepts of vectors, displacement, velocity and speed. For a $2.99 app, that’s a lot of physics value!
Learn more about the Vernier Video Physics app.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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Tom Vander Ark

I wish these had been around when I was learning physics. I also like

Marie Bjerede

I'm informally teaching physics to some kids I know - I can't wait to use this tool! I also love PHET, but I wish, wish, wish that some silicon valley apps developers would turn these great simulations and games into something mastery based, android & iOS compatible, and instrumented to capture artifacts of student learning.

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