The vision of our project is to introduce a novel learning platform technology, referred to as interactive-Newton or iNewton, to promote the engaged learning of Newtonian mechanics in an undergraduate engineering dynamics course (ME240). iNewton delivers an inexpensive and highly portable device for measuring and analyzing motion, essentially a “dynamics laboratory at your fingertips.” It does so at modest cost and without the need for any laboratory infrastructure. In other words, iNewton removes the institutional barriers that prohibit using hands-on experiments in an otherwise lecture-only class.
The technology underlying iNewton is a tiny inertial measurement unit (IMU) that collects motion data which includes (3-D) acceleration and (3-D) angular velocity data that defines the dynamics of any object to which the IMU is attached. For example, it is easily attached to a baseball bat, a bicycle, a Frisbee, someone’s foot, a pogo stick, a roller coaster, a gymnast, etc. The information is available on a personal computer and can promote detailed exploration and engaged leaning of engineering dynamics with real motion data. Importantly, iNewton enables the free exploration of dynamics outside the confines and without the expense of the traditional laboratory by allowing students to perform experiments wherever convenient, whether in a dorm room, hallway, coffee shop, amusement park, athletic field, or lecture hall.