Computer Vision Based Object Tracking as a Teaching Aid for High School Physics Experiments

G.D. Illeperuma, D.U.J. Sonnadara


Experiments play a vital role in science education. In high school physics, especially in mechanics, many experiments are conducted where tracking a single or multiple objects are required. In most situations students visually observe the motion of objects and take the measurements. This manual method is time consuming, generates higher error and incapable of producing multiple readings rapidly. The research described in this work introduces a simple mechanism to integrate computer vision based tracking to enhance the quality of measurements and to new ways of looking at experiments. The case study consists of three standard experiments. In the first experiment a motion of the simple pendulum was tracked. Using computer vision students were able to obtain a correlation of 0.99 between the calculated period and the theoretical period. In addition, it was possible to calculate the position and the velocity of the bob more than 30 times during a single oscillation. Students were able to plot the extra data points for a better understanding of the simple harmonic motion, which was not possible in the manual method. Second experiment was focused on measuring the terminal velocity of a ball moving through a viscous medium. Final case study was on tracking multiple particles in a moving fluid. In all three experiments computer vision based system provided more accurate and higher number of data points than the manual method. This helps students to understanding the underline theory better. The tracking system was consisted of a digital camera, image preprocessing sub system, feature extraction subsystem, object identification subsystem and data export subsystem. The system was successfully tested on a normal PC which is cost effective to be used in high schools. Based on the case studies it was concluded that such systems can be used in high schools to improve the quality of experiments conducted.


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