School of Physics with Arduino and Smartphones – II edition

The second edition of the School of Physics with Arduino and Smartphone is over and, as in the first edition, was a great success.

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During the school, 24 high school teachers with no experience in programming nor in electronics, were turned into real makers: they have learned how to program an Arduino board and how to use a smartphone to make physics experiments and they did them.

Day 1 was devoted to lessons, by myself and David Cuartielles, one of the Arduino co-founders, about Arduino programming and about phyphox: a smartphone App developed by our colleagues at Aachen. In the afternoon, after a visit to the FabLab of Fondazione Mondo Digitale, where the school was held, participants started designing the experiments, that must be made using readily available materials besides Arduino and few sensors provided by us.


At the beginning of Day 2 we brought the group of teachers to the Eva shop (a shop own by a Chinese woman that sells almost everything), where they could buy whatever they need to perform the experiments. Then, each group started building its own experiment with the support of the FabLab personnel and few tutors (among which, four teachers from the first edition).

Experiments were fine tuned on the morning of Day 3, and presented in the afternoon. Experiments will be described on this blIMG_20170907_124710-ANIMATIONog during next days.

Teachers were enthusiasts. Using Arduino or smartphones to perform experiments adds lot of value to them: traditionally, laboratory kits need just to be assembled and run. They appear almost as “black boxes” from which there is few to learn. Self-constructed experiments force students to think about every detail and to deeply understand what they are doing. Experimental errors (both statistical and systematic) must be properly taken into account and data analysis has to be made offline, forcing a review of the all the physics behind the experiments. Physics can be literally grasped in any aspect. Moreover, the experience is engaging and stimulates competition among participants.


Experiments were done on objects falling on a slide, Doppler effect, energy conservation, theinverse square law for illumination, the magnetic field produced by a current, light attenuation traversing a medium and the Newton’s second Law. Moreover a wearable device was realised to physically turn a circular motion into an harmonic one.

In summary, the school was extremely fruitful in showing how simple and instructive can be the realisation of performant experiments using technologies like Arduino and Smartphone.

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We look forward to the next edition of such a school. A photo gallery is available here.

LHC è una macchina da record per molti versi, incluso quello di essere l’oggetto macroscopico piú freddo dell’Universo: si trova, infatti, ad appena 1.9 gradi sopra lo zero assoluto (-271 gradi Celsius). È necessario mantenere i 27 km della sua circonferenza a questa temperatura per rendere superconduttore il cavo che porta la corrente necessaria per produrre gli intensi campi magnetici che trattengono i protoni nell’orbita.

Non esiste alcun dispositivo sulla Terra che utilizzi tanto materiale superconduttore (per un totale di un miliardo di km di cavo) come LHC. Solo ora cominciano a comparire i primi spin-off. La Nexans, un’azienda che produce cavi, e il KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), che hanno prodotto insieme all’Ansaldo di Genova e altre società i cavi di LHC, hanno da poco fatto un accordo con la società elettrica tedesca per dotare le città di superconduttori per il trasporto di energia.

Essen è la prima città della Germania a dotarsi di un superconduttore lungo 1 km a scopi civili. La città utilizzerà un materiale nuovo, capace di diventare superconduttore a una temperatura piú alta: 200 gradi sotto lo zero Celsius (non proprio caldo, ma sempre meglio di 271).

C’è da ritenere che in un prossimo futuro saranno sempre di piú le applicazioni di questi nuovi materiali, che hanno cominciato ad avere prezzi competitivi anche grazie allo sviluppo promosso dalla ricerca in fisica delle particelle.

Uno spin-off da LHC