Saturday, February 11, 2012

Smart Phones: mobile learning

The other day I learned two amazing facts about smart phones. One, smart phones have the same computing power as space ships in the 1960s. Two, the gyroscope chip that enables smart phone screens to rotate is the size of a hair pin. Amazing, right? Its incredible to imagine how everyday we are operating nano technology and using enough computer power to send Neil Armstrong on his famous moon walk.

In the classroom, this phone power is getting tapped. One of my favorites is an underwater robot developed by MIT.  When designing the robot, the students discovered a problem. The visual feedback from the on-board camera was not precise because of jostling caused by ocean currents. Solution--use the smart phone gyroscope technology to create a gizmo that constantly re-positions the camera. It worked and now the lab can control the robot in Hawaii's seas from their lab in Cambridge, MA (side note: they use an Xbox controller to maneuver the robot, so cool!). Here are some cool applications of smart phones in the classroom: Using phones as polling devices. Star observations with the constellation app Perform biology studies with a $10 cell phone microscope Search for treasure with your map app, also known as geocaching