Apps to Support
Physics Students

In the spirit of the UDL principles we have recently learned about, I have tried to include apps that are available across numerous platforms; or alternative apps that accomplish the same task where none exists across the three major mobile platforms (Android, iOS, Windows 8)

App #1: S Note (Android/Windows)

Though this app is not available across all platforms, I must include it as number one because it has personally been so useful to me. I use S Note everyday in every class, to take notes, do assignments, search for solutions automatically via Wolfram Alpha integration, draw diagrams... The list goes on and on. The advantage of S Note over other alternatives, such as Papyrus, is that it makes full native use of the Wacom digitizer built into the Samsung Note product line, meaning that the device can distinguish between the user's hand and stylus input at all times, with 1026 levels of pressure sensitivity. Tools such as handwriting to text, shape and formula matching, input recording (records a video as you edit a page, which can then be played back), and multiple different pen, pencil, and brush styles make this the most versatile and useful app for me personally. Live sync and editing on the stand-alone windows counterpart program pushes this app over the top for me.

Alternative Apps:

Alternatives to S Note include Papyrus (Android, iOS), OneNote (Windows), which are both excellent note taking apps for use on general mobile devices.

App #2: Algodoo (iPad/Windows/Mac)

Algodoo is an extremely fun and easy to use physically accurate simulator for Windows, Mac, and iPad. It is free to use in many education applications, and has a huge feature set. There is also a large community sharing files and ideas on Algobox, and many resources to support your use of it. I have fond memories of using this in its earlier open source form, called Phun. Even then, it was entertaining to use and very insightful into many key physics concepts.

Alternative Apps:

Though there are no true substitutes with equivalent feature sets for this app on Android, it can easily be accessed via a mobile android device via a remote connection app, such as Microsoft Remote Desktop.

App #3/4: LHSee(Android) / Collider (Android/iOS)

A huge part of the introduction to Modern/Quantum Physics in Physics 30 is understanding how we find/found subatomic particles. These excellent apps explain one of the defining physics experiments of our time, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, with in depth diagrams, simulations and explanations. Despite the quality of the content, it is still understandable for students. These apps also keep you up to date with experiments at the LHC, pushing notifications of the latest collisions to your device. I like both of these apps because they explain a very complex engineering project in terms simple enough for a high school student to understand, and have great simulations. They are also from the University of Oxford team at the LHC, which provides better access to the actual LHC and correct information, all within an aesthetically pleasing and well designed app.

App #5: Pocket Physics (Android)

This free app contains a great cross section of physics concepts and formulas. It includes diagrams, simulations, formulas, and explanations of theory in an easy to use and well designed app. Though not everything is perfect in it (it currently skips impulse and momentum, key concepts for physics 30), it can be a handy resource while doing problem sets to quickly find formulas or review key information. It also provides another source of information for students.

Alternative Apps:

A quick search of the iOS, Play, and Windows app stores reveals numerous similar apps. I chose this one to feature because of its wide selection of accurate content (from what I can tell) and its intuitive and aesthetically pleasing interface. However, there are many other suitable apps that serve the same purpose.

App #6: Physics Gizmo

This is a great app to use in schools without the budget for expensive data collection tools. Using only android smartphones, this app can collect data for a wide range of sensors and experiments, which can be uploaded to analyze later. The app uses proximity sensors (present in all Android touchscreen smartphones to turn off the screen when holding the phone to your ear), accelerometers, and cameras to detect and record motion for a number of applications. This is immensely useful, as some schools may not have the budget for spark tapes or other expensive data collection systems. Though the app is not the most aesthetically pleasing, it is very useful and does what it describes. It is also open source.

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