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Experimentation and the Digital Camera

Digital images can be used as effective tools for students in lab situations.

Some Examples

Scenario: Stobe photography of motion
Your students are participating in a motion lab. The students will be observing horizontal motion across a plane and falling bodies. Traditionally such an experiment would involve the use of tap-timers and some maybe some Polaroid photography (which would then have to be copied and enlarged). If you're lucky, you might have a new motion sensor. Instead you can use a digital camera and a good strobe and have each student do his or her own motion experiment and collect imaging data and then analyze the images to calculate linear and falling motion. By using a digital camera, it becomes affordable for each student to have images of the experiment. Each student or group performs the lab, taking a strobed photo (about 2000 fpm) of the motion as it occurs (a low light level in the room is used, total dark is not necessary). Objects are moved in the foreground with a ruler (a regular meterstick works well, no special black & white ruler needed) and dark material in the background. Through a USB connection, the images are immediately transferred to a computer and then made available through the school's network. Each student then prints out the images onto paper then makes the measurements on the lab paper (images automatically to scale) and performs individual calculations and analysis.

bulletImages can be use to display lab setup. The images could be put onto overheads, lab instruction sheets, or large screen display as part of the pre-lab.
bulletImages can be collected during the lab be used for documentation of completion and for inclusion in the student's lab report. The image can give the student an object to focus the report on and become a component of the student's portfolio.
bulletTake images to use as a prelab class calculation/analysis object, display an image by projecting (overhead, TV/Video, video projector), and perform analysis. The image can also be used to show the approximate standard for students' own images.
bulletA picture of of the experiment can be used to take the students through the step by step analysis and calculations of their own images. Project an image then explain to the students how to measure and analyze their own images.
| Step 1 | Step 2 | Step 3|

Use the digital camera to create your own virtual dissections.
Take your own time lapse photography and then combine into digital video.
Document life cycles.
Collect image sequences of long term events, such as changing shadows, sun zenith position, stellar motion, and other seasonal changes.
Use the digital camera for a live display of dissection, owl pellets, crystal formation that would otherwise be difficult to display to a group.
Use the digital camera with scientific tool such as telescopes and microscopes for documentation and sharing.
Collect wave motion or stream table video.
Take before and after pictures for analysis of stress points, from objects that students construct (bridge building, etc.)

Digital cameras in education

1999 Drs.Cavanaugh

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Copyright 2006 Drs.Cavanaugh  Last modified: March 06, 2008