Students Tackle Physics With iPads


The iPad is an amazing piece of technology that can take us anywhere we want to go. But, aside from being a portal to the internet, game console, and personal music machine (iTunes – you’ve probably lost count of the songs you’ve downloaded), it also has applications that can be functional in the classroom.

Mike Cavagnero, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is using the iPad’s built-in, high-tech gadgetry in his A&S Wired research course, the Science of Measurement.  Building upon the idea of measurement and observation as the foundation of science, students in this interactive physics class are tasked with one of four measuring projects from around campus – which must be completed using iPad tools. The iPad has a built in camera and can serve as a compass to measure magnetic fields. It can act as both a spectrometer to measure light sources and an accelerometer to measure how fast an object is moving. There are challenges to the final projects, which range from measuring the speed of the Patterson Office Tower elevator to measuring the speed of sound at a specifically-defined area outside UK's Singletary Center, but the undergraduates enrolled in the course are enjoying exploring the world around them.

To find out more about these interesting iPad tools, check out an iPad App demonstration with Mike Cavagnero and see them in action.