Introductory physics labs typically use highly specialized equipment to detect, record and analyze physical data from experiments, such as acceleration and rotational speed of objects. But such hard-to-use, expensive tools can be a barrier to learning. Colleen Countryman, a teaching assistant professor of physics at North Carolina State University, was convinced there was a better way: She had done some research on the use of smartphones in physics labs and believed that a well-designed app could take advantage of the smartphone’s sensors to replace proprietary equipment in conducting experiments.

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