RWTH Celebrates Reaching One Million Installations of the Phyphox App
All over the world, young people are using their smartphones to perform physics experiments.
Phyphox is a free app developed at RWTH Aachen University. Phyphox – an acronym for physical phone experiments – allows to use the many sensors built in any smartphone to perform physics experiments. Released in September 2016, the app has crossed the threshold of one million installations in January 2020. Thanks to a number of volunteer translators, the app is available in fourteen languages; translations into seven other languages are in preparation. Development of the app has been supported by RWTH Aachen University, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Stifterverband, and the Hans Hermann Voss foundation.
A Pedagogical Tool
“We created phyphox as a didactic tool for our first-year Experimental Physics course”, says Professor Christoph Stampfer, head of the 2nd Institute of Physics A at RWTH Aachen University. "Our goal was to have our 300-plus students performing experiments in class or for their assignments. It was a big and pleasant surprise to see how quickly the app spread beyond the lecture hall."
Installation rates are higher during school hours than at weekends and during holidays. "Teachers want to generate enthusiasm for physics in their classes," says Professor Heidrun Heinke from the 1st Institute of Physics, whose research focuses on the pedagogy of physics teaching and learning. "Now that virtually every student has a smartphone, the costs of many acoustic and mechanics experiments in schools drop to zero. Furthermore, the app gives teachers the freedom of choosing which level of data analysis their students should perform and what they want to focus on in each experiment."
Phyphox has been presented at several conferences and workshops around the world, including the MNU Bundeskongress, the Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Annual Meeting of the Physical Society of Taiwan, and the Chaos Communication Congress.
In 2019, the phyphox team received the Archimedes Prize, awarded by MNU, a German association for the promotion of education in the STEM fields. The annual award, which comes with a prize money of 4,000 euros, honors innovative concepts and teaching methods in physics and mathematics.
A "Digital Ambassador"
"Not only is Phyphox an example of how digital formats can be used to enhance teaching and learning, helping students to acquire knowledge and skills on their own. Moreover, the app has also become a digital ambassador of RWTH, spreading the University's logo around the world," says Professor Aloys Krieg, Vice-Rector for Teaching at RWTH Aachen University.
The phyphox app is available for free on Android and iOS.