Cell Phone Science


Smartphones are incredibly powerful.  We use them for calling, texting, posting, scrolling, and gaming on a daily basis.  But what many people don’t think of using their smartphones for is performing science experiments!

Phyphox is an app that allows users to perform physical science experiments on a variety of different subjects including acceleration, magnetic field, and sound.  Here are 3 fun science experiments that you can perform right on your phone.

1.  Bouncing Ball

The only supplies you need for this experiment are a ball that makes noise when it bounces and your phone.  In the Phyphox app open up the experiment “(In)elastic collision.” Place your phone close to where you are bouncing the ball so that it picks up the sound.  Then you set the app to record and finally, drop the ball.

The app records each bounce and calculates the bound height.  Using that information you can examine how the initial drop distance relates to each bounce height.  You can also compare the bounce height of different sized balls.

2.  The Speed of Sound

Using phyphox’s acoustic stopwatch, you can figure out the speed of sound.  The acoustic stopwatch will allow you to start and stop the timer by clapping.  You take 2 phones (Phone A and Phone B) and place them a measured distance apart, for example 12 feet apart.  Then you start the timer by clapping over Phone A. Phone B will start a few moments later since it is farther away.  Then, after a short period of time you go and clap over Phone B to stop the timers. Phone B will have a slightly shorter time than Phone A; the difference between the 2 numbers is the time it took for sound to travel from A to B and back B to A.

To calculate the speed of sound, all you have to do is take twice the measured distance between the two phones and divide that by the difference in the time intervals.

3.  Building Height

Did you know that your phone has a built in barometer to measure atmospheric pressure?  It helps the GPS better determine your location. However, the barometer can also be used to conduct a fun experiment.

Using the phyphox app, you can record the change of pressure as you ride up an elevator.  It will then calculate your height relative to time. You can compare data from fast and slow elevators at different heights and see major changes on a graph.

Story via Wired