The Nokia N9 and Teaching Physics

| December 12, 2011 | 11 Replies

We got an email from Joachim, a Physics teacher and a reader of MyNokiaBlog. He’s a Nokia N9 user and has sent us an article in how the N9 with all its sensors can be useful when teaching physics.

If Einstein were alive today, I think he’d be most impressed by the Nokia N9, no?

Here’s his article:

The N9 in Teaching Physics
As a teacher you perceive smartphones foremost as a nuisance, as something that distracts the attention of pupils and as something with which they prefer to be engaged rather than the things they should be engaged with. As a teacher of physics I have given some thought how those devices, which are full of sensors, can be advantageously used in teaching physics. Here are some proposals for my N9:

1. White balance

At the beginning of a lecture in optics I like to demonstrate the white balance settings of the camera in my smartphone. For this purpose I connect my N9 via the tv out with a beamer and demonstrate how the color temperature of photographs changes with different settings. In this way I bring home to my pupils that any visible object emits light. The light emitted by an object depends upon the light that  itselves receives from another light source. This explains for instance the different shades of colour in neon or candle light. In this way you can demonstrate nicely that colours are no objective property of an object, but always depend upon the light in which an object is being seen.

2. Seismograph

Modern smart phones have sensors for acceleration. Telephones need those sensors to gauge whether the device is being held horizontally or vertically. For the N9 there exists the app seismograph which represents the acceleration graphically. This presentation is not very accurate, you get no absolute value of the measurement, but for simple movements of your hand you can make approximate diagrams of acceleration in time. If you let the device fall softly on a table you see that this push is equal to a strong acceleration. The seismograph can, like all apps, be shown on a beamer.


3. Metronome


Often you want to mark in the teaching of phyics equal time periods (e. g. for oscillations, for the making of  time-way-diagrams…). With a metronome app different time periods can be indicated acoustically by beats.


4. Stroboscope

The stroboscope is also interesting for the presentation of movements. The stroboscope-app “The Flashlight” switches the LEDs of the N9 on and off. With a stroboscope you can visualize in dark surroundings snapshots of moving objects. The frequency can be changed.







5. Measure the loudness

Apps of this kind measure the volume in decibels. This app can be used to measure the loudness in a class-room.  Connect the phone


the beamer and define a value, at which you want to interrupt the work of the pupils. The pupils can control the actu

al noise level on a screen. In this case you also have to take into account that this measurement is not very accurate. In addition, the app is not shown in the landscape mode, but this disadvantage is only small.

6. Video transmission

A teacher often wants to show his pupils experiments and is faced with the problem that not everyone can see the experimental set-up. If you want to avoid crowding around  the table, you can connect the N9 to a beamer and transmit the experiment live. Most pupils will only be too glad to shoot the happening with the N9.


7. Analyse motions

Time-distance diagrams can be drawn quickly with the smartphone. Unfortunately, the player in N9 functions only in intervals of one second. It also is very taxing to hit the beginning of a second. Nevertheless the movement of a slow toy car can easily be registered. Ideally, the corridor of the class-room is tiled, so that the measurement of the distance can be made easily.

To present the apps really on a screen you need the correct kind of cable. I use the CA-74U cable that I bought originally for my C7. It functions without any problems with the N9. Since nearly all monitors, beamers etc. have a video connection, this cable is ideally suited for teaching purposes, since schools are, as we all know, not very well  equipped technologically.

For all users of Symbian I should like to add that much of the above functions also work with Symbian Anna devices, provided that the device has a TV out. Perhaps someone will also construct sensors that can be connected to the USB out and read out (for
temperature etc.)


Category: Maemo, MeeGo, Nokia

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Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]