link Source:
date_range Starts on January 29, 2016
event_note Ends on April 8, 2016
list 10 sequences
assignment Level : Introductory
label Physics
chat_bubble_outline Language : English
card_giftcard 320 points
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timer 40 hours in total

About the content

In the MOOC "Smartphone Pocketlab", you do real physics experiments at home and you learn scientific description of movement : speed, acceleration, trajectory...

The needed equipment is a smartphone and a laptop. This is all.

The proposed experiments explore the concepts presented in the course 'Classical Mechanics' that is taught in all universities. They introduce participants to a scientific description of motion by doing themselves experiments at home (no lab required).

The experiments are organised in 5 sessions: the pendulum (S3) and the free fall (S1) with illustrations directly from Galileo and Newton, while the Session 2 (S2) deals with rotation and Session 4 (S4) with oscillations and vibrations.
In Session 5 (S5), you do your own experiment: you can study trajectory of a bicycle, of a train. As an example, we show you how to quantitatively study the trajectory, speed and acceleration of a tramway. New ideas welcomed.

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It is perfect if you have scientific knowledge needed to enter university.
If this knowledge is not complete or partially lost or somewhat old, we shall propose you a qualitative approach.
This qualitative approach is based on the use of a real time and interactive representation on your laptop screen of measured data. This representation is based on our open source software iMecaProf.

You can therefore do experiments following two different strategies:

Strategy 1:

You are interested by playing with scientific concepts associated to motion, but not necessarily by entering a full quantitative data treatment.
The strategy 1, firstly based on this qualitative approach is what you are looking for. This is made possible using iMecaProf. For example, you shall control by hand a pendulum (The smartphone is hanging from its charging cable whose USB connector, the upper extremity, is held by your hand). To do so you shall use real time information on laptop screen as a dashboard. Part of this qualitative strategy of learning is based on games.

Strategy 2:

You want to have first this qualitative approach to play with your smartphone and with key concepts associated for example to energy conservation.
But you also want to do a full quantitative analysis of real data collected during your experiment, then we have built for you a second strategy.
In strategy 2, first you play with physics as in strategy 1, but when you are happy with qualitative control of experiment, you save data in a .csv file that can be transfered in any spreadsheet such as Excel. In that case, you will learn to do experiments and to treat the collected data by smartphone sensors using Classical Mechanics at the level required by most universities in first year. In order to do quantitative data treatment, we shall use of a spreadsheet such as Excel. This can be learnt during the course



  • Session 1    Free fall and 1D motion (start, move an stop)
  • Session 2    Circular motion
  • Session 3    Pendulum
  • Session 4    Mechanical oscillations
  • Session 5    Motion in real life: train, bicycle,...

Needed time to complete one session is 4 hours.



Joel Chevrier
Professeur de physique à l'Université Grenoble Alpes En délégation au CRI Paris de l'Université Paris Descartes Beside research activities in Nanosciences and teaching at Master level, he has taught at first year level for the last twenty years


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Université Paris Descartes

L’université Paris Descartes ou Paris V est une des treize universités parisiennes. Elle est pluridisciplinaire et fait partie de l'université Sorbonne Paris Cité.




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