iPhysics

CONWAY, Ark. (October 30, 2012) - Hendrix physics professors recently acquired an Apple iPad and quickly found the tablet to be a great teaching tool.  

Dr. Todd Tinsley has used the video capture capabilities in his "Vibrations and Waves" class to analyze the motion of swinging pendulums, and Dr. Damon Spayde used it as part of an elementary school outreach project to do a short presentation on the Solar System. The iPad has seen heaviest use so far by students in instructional labs.

Students gather data (on paper) about the trajectories of air pucks floating on a level table using lab equipment, take a picture of the data with the iPad, and email it to the department's Flickr photo stream (http://flickr.com/photos/hendrix_physics).  Each student group downloads their data from the photo stream to a lab computer for subsequent analysis in a photo analysis software package that allows students to highlight points on the trajectory in order to automatically determine their positions.  These data are then used in further calculations to determine the momentum and energy of the pucks.

"The iPad has been a really helpful teaching tool so far," said Spayde. "It's a quick and efficient way to take a picture of data on paper and upload it to a server for further analysis."

"This saves a lot of time and improves the accuracy over the old paper and ruler based approach," Spayde said, adding that this lab worked much better this year than in previous years.

The physics department is looking at other ways the iPad could be used to improve the learning environment.

Dr. Spayde is planning to use it extensively in his astronomy class in the spring.

"There are several great astronomy apps available for the iPad. I think it will be a big help in identifying objects when the class goes out at night to perform observations," said Spayde.

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the fifth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country's "Up and Coming" liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. Hendrix is featured in the 2012 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country's best 377 colleges, the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Feel about Colleges, Forbes magazine's annual list of America's Top 650 Colleges, and the 2013 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.