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Livin’ the star trek life

September 10, 2010

Yesterday, scientists in Australia developed a tractor beam. I’m constantly marveling at my iphone. I mean I LOVE wolfram alpha for the iphone. It’s like the most awesome, beautiful calculator in the world.

and wondering, just like XKCD, why my kids keep being forced to buy the same $150 Ti-Calculator (with a few more CAS bells and whistles) that I had to buy when I was in high school.

So imagine how I felt today when I discovered Vernier Video Analysis for iOS. I’ve used video analysis before on logger pro, and it’s ok, but its buried under some menus, take a bit of set up, and just always felt kludgey. Tracker Video Analysis, is awesome, and Doug Brown is like the greatest at supporting the app, but it’s a bit too much for many of my freshmen, though the webstart video experiments are awesome (really fun homework).

Imagine the day, right in the middle of modeling discussion.

student 1: I think the basketball is falling at constant acceleration.
student 2: I think it the acceleration might be increasing.
student 1: how can we test this?
student 2: let’s use our iphone!
—2 minutes later—
student 1: wow, after filming and analyzing the motion on the iphone, it’s pretty clear that velocity is increasing at a constant rate, so it must be constant acceleration.

Ok, so I’m dreaming a bit about the conversation between the students, but the time it takes to film and analyze motion in this program is no lie. It is FAST. Like lightning fast. And easy to use. Like I think I could teach my soon to be infant daughter to do this, as soon as she exits the womb, can hold her head up, and focus on something more than 6 inches away from her face.

So imagine what my classroom would be like if I could get rid of all those TI-nspires that take 5 minutes to boot up (seriously, I don’t need a calculator that has to boot up), and have a class set of ipod touches for most everything we do—taking and analyzing photos and videos, solving real world problems with real data from Wolfram Alpha and the web, measuring accelerations with accelmeter, measuring short distances with sonar ruler, and then measuring out long distances with distance free, answering clicker questions with Response Ware, while we have my desktop cluster of ubuntu machines (always ready to go with no boot time) for any deeper analysis that requires a lot of typing. It would be awesome. Now if webassign would get their act together and write a iphone app.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 10, 2010 2:09 am

    ZOMG! No ways! Now what am I going to do with all those Flip cameras?

    Srsly, TI needs to get their act together.

    Could you put together a list of your favorite apps for physics? That would be a great resource! Thanks!

  2. September 10, 2010 2:15 am

    I’m loving my zi-8 because I can pop out the SD card, upload crazy long footage to vimeo, and it gets processed while I do other stuff. I still like my old filp, because it gets to volunteer for all the dangerous experiments.

    To do any video stuff, kids will need either the very latest ipod touch, or the most recent 2 iphones (4 and 3gs). I’ve surveyed my kids who are tech fiends, and found that despite this, most of them don’t have smartphones, yet. But I did write our tech director and ask if we can look at using ipod touches or ipads (if they add camera in 2nd gen)

    As best I can tell, the only reason TI is still making money is because they’ve made a deal with the great satan (The College Board) to be the official calculator of the SAT.

    And I don’t see the SAT math can be even remotely comparable to the SAT math test I took, if you can bring a CAS to the test. Not that it should be.

  3. September 10, 2010 2:20 am

    I’ve always dreamed about Vernier coming out with Logger Pro on the iPhone and then they go and do it. Thanks for finding and sharing this along with all the apps you listed. Now if we can only convince them to make connectors from their probes to the iPhone, we’ll have our own tricorders.

    And you guys are spot on with the TIs. I keep asking our math teachers if they think we’ll replace them when we move to a 1-to-1 laptop program.

    • September 10, 2010 2:34 am

      This isn’t logger pro, yet. It’s only video analysis. But Pasco does have sparkvue for iphone, which is their version of logger pro, and it uses bluetooth to interface with pasco sensors. Which brings up another of my pet peeves in the PASCO/Vernier war. Why can’t we standardize these interfaces so I can use Pasco’s awesome 2-d force plate with my vernier stuff, and vernier’s awesome wireless dynamic data thing with my pasco stuff? It’s like I’ve got to choose my faction when I start up my lab, and can never cross between.

  4. September 12, 2010 11:42 am

    Here’s a list of science apps for iOS I just found.

    Mobile Science

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