October 26, 2012

California Space Grant Utilizes HPWREN LIVE Concept to Share Interactive Physics Lesson with Remote Audience

The California Space Grant Team recently led a distance learning activity between the Los Angeles County Fair and physics students at Mountain Empire High School, which is located in rural southeast San Diego County.

Using lessons learned from the HPWREN LIVE team, the California Space Grant distance learning activity allowed the rural high school students to explore the physics involved with carnival rides - without leaving their classroom.

Using off-the shelf equipment and freeware that has been tested by the HPWREN LIVE team, the California Space Grant student and peer presenter communicated in real-time with the Mountain Empire physics students; specifically, an iPhone4S (with a headset) streamed real-time video and audio via Skype, using the Verizon Wireless 4G Network with an average upload speed of 1Mbps. The iPhone was situated atop a monopod with an iPhone mount.

In addition to the hands-on activity, the students were provided with an interactive website that further explains and depicts the physics behind amusement park rides. To compile the website, the Space Grant team collected acceleration data using an accelerometer placed in a Vernier data collection vest. Video clips shown from inside the ride were collected via a wrist-bound iPhone4S while exterior video was collected using a JVC action camera atop a monopod.

Following the distance learning activity, an informal evaluation was conducted by the physics teachers among their 22 students. The results are as follows:

95% agree that the information was presented effectively by the presenters.

95% agree that the hands-on activity was fun.

95% agree that they are interested in participating in another activity that allows them to interact in real-time with scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians.

86% agree that they learned a lot from the students and researchers at the science/engineering site.

86% agree that they would recommend this type of distance learning activity to their classmates and friends.

73% agree that they are more excited about studying science after this activity.

59% agreed that the audio quality was good.

73% disagreed that the video quality was good.

To address these last two issues, the team is replacing the iPhone 4S with an iPhone5, which will operate on the Verizon LTE Network and have average upload speeds of 5Mbps. This adjustment should decrease the pixelation in the video and increase the audio quality.

This 20-minute video depicts the “G-Force LIVE!” activity.

The California Space Grant team would like to thank the HPWREN LIVE team for sharing their expertise to make this activity possible!

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