Mobile Science

By Raymond Wisman and Kyle Forinash.

Published by Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The conference title of Ubiquitous Learning speaks of learning at any point in space and, presumably, at any moment in time. Mobile devices, particularly cell phones, present a technology that can create learning opportunities anyplace and anytime. Our work has long been to create tools for basic science experimentation, with similar capabilities to specialized equipment in an undergraduate science laboratory, but using personal computers for data acquisition and analysis. Now, using a mobile device, significant science experiments can be done outside the laboratory, in the student’s native environment. Importantly, when the mobile device is a cell phone, which almost all students have on their person almost all the time, a student can collect and analyze the data of an experiment when and where an opportunity and their curiosity intersect. This has the potential to dramatically change the relationship between students and their role in learning, and how they contemplate science; for example, in addition to the standard approach of studying acceleration by rolling a ball down an inclined plane in their college lab, the student could also bungee-jump or ride a roller-coaster to more personally experience the effects and analyze the experiment. Many mobile phones come already are equipped with accelerometers appropriate for such an analysis. Another important dimension of mobile devices is the combining of voice and data communications with multiple and malleable means of human interaction, that include touch screens, sounds, vibration, GPS, magnetometer, accelerometers, vision, and more – all of which provide the foundation for a rich collaboration between students nearby or anywhere on earth, allowing students to work together on a common problem without the constraints of place or time. We share a number of examples of recent work on several different mobile platforms, including examples using accelerometers, magnetometers and sound, some of the lessons learned, and potential future directions.

Keywords: Mobile Science, Acceleration, Mobile Device, Magnetometer, Science Experiments, Inquiry-based

Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp.21-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 651.074KB).

Raymond Wisman

Associate Professor of Computer Science, Department of Computer Science, School of Natural Sciences, Indiana University Southeast, New Albany, IN, USA

Over past 25 years I have worked with physicist Kyle Forinash on developing software tools for performing undergraduate laboratory experiments using personal computers that a student would possess. I have been fortunate to occasionally teach computer science courses that both create and use some of these tools, which provides an additional excuse for spending time on such projects. We have recently turned our attention to developing science and collaborative learning tools for smart phones and mobile devices, computing platforms that were obviously teleported from our future by accident.

Kyle Forinash

Professor of Physics, Department of Physics, School of Natural Sciences, Indiana University Southeast, New Albany, IN, USA