Sep 2, 2016 | By Nick

PhoneLabs has launched an IndieGoGo campaign to fund the development of a 3D printed system that can turn a smartphone into a mobile Physics lab. The goal of the project is to get children more engaged with STEM subjects in a new and dynamic way.

Modern mobile phones are packed with sensors and computing capability, so much so that they have rendered a good deal of modern technology redundant. At the same time, as children become way more engaged with their mobile phones, interest in the STEM subjects has dropped. Many simply see Science, Technology, Engineering and Math as boring, at least in the traditional way they are taught, but that needn’t be the case.

“The way we teach science and math is not working,” said Professor Robert Fitzgerald, of the University of Canberra. “We make it too abstract and we need to make it more active and hands-on.”

PhoneLabs has a unique solution to this problem. It wants to turn the smartphone into a Physics lab that will draw the students back in and make full use of their phone’s onboard technology to create a lesson that they will enjoy.

The Adelaide-based start-up is the brainchild of Sivam Krish, who worked with a government-funded program to tackle the well-publicised problems with STEM subjects. As part of the research program, Krish found that the experiments used to teach the children basic scientific concepts had barely changed over the last 100 years. He decided it was time to shake up the old routine and come up with a whole new approach.

The concept is quite simple. With the help of an app, the smartphone can illustrate complex theories like acceleration on a skateboard and measure vibrations through a solid object. He points out that the average smartphone has more sensors than a school laboratory, so we should use them. It can be used to measure and illustrate sound, distance and frequency. These aren’t just simple measures of units, either. The PhoneLabs app can accurately measure angles, the area and diameter of a circle and also the distance between a set of points in a complex shape. The app is not only free, it’s also open source and you can download it here.

The app is more or less universal, and can work on any smartphone device, but there’s a piece missing in the puzzle. 3D printed kits will increase the capability and accuracy of the phone and turn an iPhone, Galaxy or Xperia into a mobile science laboratory.

The 3D printed kit includes a spring balance, ruler, wheels and a variety of brackets that hold the phone in place. It’s a modular kit that can be used in different ways for different experiments and on the IndieGoGo campaign, at least, they are priced from $20 for the most basic kit through to $225 for a complete kit that includes a webcam.

You can even donate a kit to an underprivileged school that has no actual science lab with a $20 contribution.

This simple concept means that science can come to life and students can start to apply it to their daily lives in a fun and engaging way. Acceleration is a dry and tedious subject when it’s on a blackboard. When it’s a competition among friends on bikes, then they see it in a whole new light.

The company has worked tirelessly on the versatile, simple to use, and durable kit. In fact, PhoneLabs is currently on the 221st iteration of the kit and there are sure to be more. PhoneLabs has sent kits out to schools and universities for testing. So far, the early feedback has been encouraging, as Google even featured the app in Android Experiments. It is still a work in progress, however, as the team plans to incorporate principles of sound, light and magnetism into their program.

By the time they are finished, this simple 3D printed kit could turn your smartphone into the ultimate science teacher. PhoneLabs is also working on its own unique syllabus that could help teachers inspire students around the world as part of the experience.

The early signs are good and PhoneLabs looks like it will smash its $3500 goal. So if you want to get one of the early kits, or you just want to know more, check out the IndieGoGo campaign.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Anja wrote at 9/6/2016 8:24:27 AM:

@Perry_Lane: Thanks, corrected.

Perry_Lane wrote at 9/5/2016 4:56:47 PM:

PLZ correct > http://www.phonelabs/webapps phoneLabs link in story is not right should be

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