Campus and Community

e-lab provides four physics experiments to secondary school students

Instituto Superior Técnico and Instituto de Educação will provide secondary school students with four remotely controlled Physics experiments.

Secondary school students enrolled in Science and Technology course will have four mandatory physics experiments in the discipline of physics. These experiments will be conducted in e-lab, the remotely controlled laboratory, which is available 24 hours a day and provides free experiments. Monitoring the conservation of energy and the moment when bodies collide, checking the causes of pendulum isochronism and how it measures the local acceleration of gravity, and exploring renewable energy, namely solar panels, diffused light, etc., will be possible by accessing the e-lab website.

Two experiments already existed, one of them was carried out at Externato Cooperativo da Benedita, as a result of a previous project funded by Ciência-Viva, and the “World Pendulum” funded by Erasmus +. The experiments “Plano inclinado” and “Painel fotovoltaico”, created by e-lab team and supported by a FCT project, will be part of this set of experiments very soon. The aim of this project is to examine the potential of STEM programmes using remote laboratories for physics learning”, explains Horácio Fernandes, professor at the Department of Physics (DF/IST) and coordinator of e-lab.

In a simple, accessible and dynamic way, e-lab combines experiments with the dynamism of new technologies allowing students to test what they have learnt from school books. After accessing the e-lab website – and completed the registration access – students choose the experiment and the apparatus: “First, they design their own experiment, in what we call the ‘control room’, which is, in practice, a virtualized lab environment, and later they conduct the experiment and see it happening through the live stream video, getting data in real time”, explains professor Horácio Fernandes.

“Although I believe that laboratory practice has a very important role in experimental physics, e-lab is essential for Physics remote teaching”, stresses professor Horácio Fernandes. “In this way, our strategy is offering remote access to different experiments, and, at the same time, encourage teachers to propose simple activities that complement the experiments carried out in e-lab”, highlights the Técnico professor.

Professor Horácio Fernandes’ wide experience makes him say without hesitation “there is some reluctance to use new tools in teaching, but when people take this tool, they will start using it in their daily lives”. “In addition, a crisis also have positive effects: a crisis becomes a trigger mechanism for accelerated change”, he adds.

The project involves Instituto Superior Técnico, Instituto de Educação, Faculty of Sciences – Universidade de Lisboa and Faculty of Sciences – University of Porto.