CDI Students Develop Science Phone App

12 January 2015

CDI Students Develop Science Phone App

Creative and digital industries students at UTC Sheffield have helped to develop a new science mobile phone app.

The Sense-it app is the first open application to unlock the full range of sensors on mobile devices. It enables people of any age to do science projects on their phones and tablets.

The app turns users into instant scientists by transforming smart phones into scientific instruments of discovery with their light, sound and acceleration sensors or gyroscopes, allowing them to record and measure data, like magnetic field, proximity and light.

It is supported by the nQuire-it platform, a research and development project funded by Nominet Trust and coordinated by The Open University in collaboration with UTC Sheffield.

Brigidin Crowther, Assistant Principal, UTC Sheffield, said: “We are excited to work on this outstanding and innovative project. UTC Sheffield is all about developing young minds of the future so for us it is important to be connected to cutting edge approaches where our students can apply their digital talents and creative energies. This partnership draws on synergies across our specialisms and this has always been part of our original vision.”

The Sense-it app is linked to the nQuire-it platform to allow users to share their findings instantly. Missions on the platform include creating a noise map around a city or school, identifying clouds, measuring the fastest lift in the world, exploring strange mirrors, and finding creative ways to measure the height of a tree or building using a mobile phone.

As concern grows that students are increasingly turning away from science in the classroom The Open University has collaborated closely with 16-18 year old students from UTC Sheffield to ensure the content is relevant and engaging.

The nQuire-it software transforms the scientific experience for users as they are able to link to and interact with a diverse range citizen science projects, receive instant feedback on how sensor recordings from their mobile phones relate to other users’ data, and allows users to design and propose their own science investigations.

Professor Mike Sharples, The Open University UK, said: “The Open University is a leader for innovations in learning technologies that break down barriers globally. Alongside our open courses, we are developing a new range of practical science activities to help people design investigations, explore their surroundings and share their findings. The nQuire-it platform puts science into the hands of people around the world.”

Annika Small, Chief Executive, the Nominet Trust, added: “The nQuire-it platform offers open tools that help young people to become citizen scientists, engaging with and helping to solve big science problems.

“This is a great example of how technology can help to redesign traditional approaches as these nQuire-it tools allow young people to contribute to genuine scientific practice as part of an online open science laboratory. Nominet Trust is excited by the potential of nQuire-it to inspire a new generation of scientists.”

The nQuire-it software is open source so anyone can join or create missions for free. They can invite other people to join their missions by using Facebook, Twitter or Google accounts.

The most successful missions will get the chance to win prizes such as money rewards, vouchers or even to have their observation made on the PIRATE telescope in Mallorca.