The American Association of Physics Teachers’ Summer Meeting 2015 was held at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD from 26-29 July 2015. TASIS rising junior Francesco Insulla presented two posters coauthored with rising seniors Sidney Mau and Rachel Maerz and physics teacher Scott Dudley. Their first poster, “The Smart Mass,” showed how to use a smartphone as the moving mass in a physical system. Combining the mass of the phone with data from its internal accelerometers one can know the entire right hand side of Newton’s second law, F=ma, or “force equals mass times acceleration”. This means the mass also knows the net force on it, making it one “smart mass”! Here’s the poster:
“The Smart Mass,” Francesco Insulla, Sidney Mau, and Scott Dudley
The first person to speak with Francesco was Chrystian Vieyra, the author of the Physics Toolbox app, which was used for data collection off the Android devices. Francesco showed Chrystian useful features to include in the app that he had coded in Mathematica, and we hope he’s able to include them in future releases.
Francesco Insulla and Chrystian Vieyra, co-founder of Vieyra Software, discuss “The Smart Mass”
Francesco shows Chrystian an analysis feature we’d like to see as part of the phone’s app.
The second poster titled “Experiment-based Test Problems” used two example test questions shown alongside actual data for such questions. This highlighted the fact that for many questions data hasn’t actually been taken. With data, as the authors have taken and shown, the question’s shortcoming are brought to the forefront. The problems on the poster involve an Atwood’s machine and standing wave resonances in an open tube, but the coauthors are exploring a half dozen such questions. Again, interest in the poster was good including a representative from the Educational Testing Services who enjoyed seeing the AP Physics example discussed. Here’s the poster:
Experiment-based Test Problems by Francesco Insulla, Sidney Mau, Rachel Maerz, and Scott Dudley
The posters attracted over forty folks with interested questions, and the students are considering future work along these lines of exploration. Francesco, Sidney, and Rachel showed great curiosity, extending themselves beyond the course outline, including taking data in their free time at school and at home, and even coming to the classroom during the summer for a couple days to flesh out the posters. All in all it was a great experience, and a fun time interacting with physicists and the physics community!