STEM

Smartphones to conduct scientific inquiry


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What kind of technology do we need in the classroom?

Imagine a digital tool that helps pupils and students master scientific experimentation, not virtually, but by observing the world around them.
Imagine a scientific instrument that allows students to make accurate measurements on sound, movement, position, light or color. An instrument that is easy to use, engaging, that encourages collaborative work, capable of processing complex calculations in real time, portable with a huge autonomy, affordable and quick to setup.

Imagine a tool that helps solve the many inequalities in scientific education. In every single country, smartphones have empowered citizens in their daily lives. From communication, to payments, to social interaction, health, or agriculture: all areas of human activity are being transformed by these smart devices. And they can also transform the way pupils and students experiment.

How can smartphones be useful in class?

In the context of Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE), smartphones offer unique capabilities to students and educators:

  1. A variety of precise sensors to perform physical measurements in all elementary, secondary or university fields of study;
  2. Advanced ergonomics, for strong and lasting engagement;
  3. Computational speed, to achieve complex analyses in real time;
  4. Communication capabilities, to exchange data and connect to external sensors;
  5. A small size and a large autonomy, to be used in the field or at home;
  6. Availability and familiarity, as it is present in most students pockets.

A few years ago, some dedicated apps emerged to capture and display sensors’ data. Their complexity made them more appropriate for university-level science rather than elementary or secondary schools. Fortunately, they have evolved into complete experimentation tools, usable in K-12.

Introducing FizziQ

In partnership with the Fondation La main à la pâte, renowned worldwide for promoting scientific knowledge, the startup Trapeze.digital has created FizziQ. The application is free, available on Android and iOS, and provides the many functionalities that are necessary for students to conduct scientific investigation:

  • Analysis and recording of more than 30 physical indicators;
  • Notebooks that include data, measures, graphs, text, photos and
    tables;
  • Exporting functionalities, to create beautiful PDF and CSV documents;
  • Notebook sharing features for easy collaboration;
  • Scientific protocols to be shared with students and the education
  • community;
  • Experimentation tools, including synthesizers, a sound library, dual recording, triggers, and many more…

Towards the mainstreaming of apps in education?

As the use of smartphones as experimentation tool grows, resources are being created and shared by the educative community. Smartphones have their specificities and pedagogy needs to be adapted to fully leverage on their capabilities . Inroads have been made, more will come with the support of the STEM community.

Make no mistake: FizziQ, or any other app, cannot replace cutting-edge laboratory equipment. Not only are these instruments precisely calibrated, but there is value in connecting wires, in using dedicated tools, in handling analog devices.

And let’s be clear, there are many measurements smartphones are not designed to apprehend. But in many cases, smartphones are not just an adequate substitute for bulky and costly laboratory instruments. They are also pedagogical tools to experiment with, that students are keen to use and which will be in their pockets for the rest of their lives… a place where you will never find an oscilloscope!

Christophe Chazot is the President of Trapeze.digital
David Jasmin is CEO of La Fondation La main à la pâte
FizziQ is a free application available on iOS or Android stores
For more information, visit www.fizziq.org or https://www.fondation-lamap.org/en/fizziq

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