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Smartphones for inquiry based science education

Updated: Mar 10, 2023

Imagine a digital tool that helps 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, is capable of processing complex calculations in real time, portable with a huge autonomy, and quick to setup.

Imagine a tool that helps solve the many inequalities in the access to science 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 our students experiment.

In the context of scientific inquiry, 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 they are 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. Fortunately, they have evolved into complete experimentation tools, usable in K-12.

In partnership with the Fondation La main à la pâte, renowned for promoting scientific investigation in Europe, the startup 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 measures

- 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

- Experimentation tools, including synthesizers, a sound library, dual-recording, triggers, and many more…

- Scientific protocols to be shared with students and the education 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 perform.

However 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!

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