January 2010

Video Analysis with Vernier

Motivation: Why Video Analysis?

In my earlier post on using Logger Pro I mentioned one of my favourite features of this software – Video Analysis. Briefly, it allows you insert and analyze video clips and produce and analyze graphs of their motion. With the abundance of video recording equipment (think cell phones and cheap digital cameras), the Video Analysis capabilities of Logger Pro become even more attractive. The feature is so straightforward that it takes the students and the teachers very little time to learn how to use it ( a huge advantage)! Yet, it opens endless possibilities to make science relevant and interesting for the students and help them get engaged in meaningful science investigations. For example, imagine a student videotaping a ball toss and immediately analyzing it. The analysis will help the student see the difference between the trajectory (the trajectory of the ball and the time dependence of its coordinates, it will also help her see the meaning of reference frame and the directions of the axes).  And what about phenomena that are very brief yet very interesting: various collisions for example or vibrations of objects? There are thousands of online video clips showing various very brief phenomena videotaped with special fast speed cameras: think of sports for example. I often visit this web site from the Colorado State University, where you can download and analyze lots of very interesting high speed video clips and analyze! You will be surprised how much you will discover.

Physics example: Can you easily convince your students that every point on an oscillating string in an x-y plane, such as at a certain time the displacements of string elements can be described as y=Asin(x), also undergoes oscillation in time that can be described mathematically using tirgonometric functions such as sine and cosine? Videotaping such a string and analyzing the motion of a certain point along it, will help your students obtain these functions experimentally and understand how such an oscillation can be described.

For many of our students the Video Analysis experience is much more important than our “perfectly prepared lecture”. And if you have a computer project or a Smartboard, you can engage your students in an all class discussion of various options for data analysis. Even more exciting is a student-generated video project. In such projects,  the students are asked to use Video Analysis to analyze real life situations happening outside of the classroom walls. An useful demo of the LoggerPro Video Analysis was produced by John (do not know his last name) and posted on YouTube:

YouTube Preview Image

We also produced a number of activities incorporating Video Analysis, as in our case, each one of our students had access to Logger Pro software (either at the computer lab or at home).

Pedagogy: Why Video Analysis?

As my students in the Educational Technology Class keep reminding me, unless the teacher has the pedagogical knowledge, he or she will not be able to use the technology effectively.

We have written a number of papers about it and will be happy to share them with you. In addition, I strongly recommend you to visit and search for resources on Video Analysis. Many teachers who use this tool will be happy to share their resources with you.

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