A Study of High School Students Doing Physics Experiments with Arduino and Other Data-Logging Devices
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Conventional high school physics labs rely on manual data logging or logging devices with a slow data acquisition rate and low precision. This study aims to design data-logging devices and a modelling tool for high school physics labs with low-cost modern electronics, including smartphones, Lego Mindstorms NXT and Arduino, equipped with an ultrasonic sensor. For NXT and smartphones, experimental data were first logged in the devices and then manually copied to a personal computer for data analysis. For Arduino, experimental data were transmitted to a PC via Bluetooth in real time. With the data in a PC, each student used a modelling tool on a Web browser to try to find an equation that fitted the data with a small error. The equation was a function that related one variable to another. For example, in a free-fall experiment, the equation expressed distance as a function of time. With each submitted equation, the tool plots the model against a background of lab data with a measure of error. Based on the visual plot and the error information, the student can then try to reduce the error by revising the equation. The results indicated that both students and the instructor enjoyed using the modern data loggers and the acquired data to find equations that fitted the data well.
KeywordsPhysics labs Data loggers Mobile devices Scientific modelling Model revision
This study is supported by the Department of International Cooperation and Science Education, Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan, under contract 101-2511-S-224-001- and 102-2511-S-224-002-MY2.
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