WHST - Wild Haired Science Teacher


Here I host apps I made for my classroom so everyone can use them.

View My GitHub Profile

Physics Apps

The apps are sorted by content area and how you might use them. I want to help as many students as possible get a high-quality three-dimensional science education. The apps will always be free. If you find them useful, consider donating to the Wild Haired Science Teacher on patreon. You’ll support development of more apps!

Note: many earth & space apps may be helpful in a physics class.


Spring Scale - It’s just a spring scale. You put brass weights on it of masses between 0.05 and 1 kg. I made it so my students could have mass and weight data without needing to know about g.


Ants - Measurement/Problem - Two ants run across the screen. Students use a ruler and stopwatch (included digitally) to find velocity and acceleration. It’s like a physics problem but with a real moving object so all the quantities have meaning. There are many calculations that can be done of varying difficulty. Ants II has students estimate initial and final velocity by using sets of lines close together to see which ant has a higher acceleration. Ants II is also available with the opposite outcome incase you want different sections to get different results. Ants III shows both ants with constant velocitie. Students can use them to measure distance or see which ant is faster. Ants III is also available with the opposite result in case you want different sections to get different results.

Ball on Ramp - Lab/Phenomenon - A simple ball on a ramp. Drag to change the height and width of the ramp. I use this one to practice planning and carrying out investigations. Also available as a sliding block with friction with fixed μ. There is some randomness in the values so students can practice using the analyzing and interpreting data practice. Also available in a version that shows energy. Now also block ramp graph shows a graph of velocity vs. time rather than just the final numbers. It has random amount of friction each time the app is loaded.

Cannon - Lab/Phenomenon - Cannon that fires a ball. You can change the power of the cannon and the angle of fire. Students use a ruler to measure the range of the cannon and a stopwatch to measure air time. This version has a small amount of randomness in it so students can practice their analyzing and interpreting data but it doesn’t stand in the way of seeing the patterns This version allows angles 10° to 40° so students see a simple increasing pattern. Update: 2020-09-17 Now loads the right app. Also available with high angles only (50° to 80°) so students see a clear decreasing pattern and the full range of angles(10° to 80°). There is also a version with more statistical noise so students can focus on the analyzing and interpreting data practice. (full range of angles too).

Cars - Measurement/Problem - Three cars of different colors drive along a road. Students can time them and use calculations to determine their velocities. I also have versions with accelerations if people are interested.

Cars II - Measurement/Problem - Three cars of different colors drive along a road. Students can time them and use calculations to determine their velocities. This version, one of the cars has acceleration.

Car Challenge - Measurement/Problem - Students take measurements and make calculations to determine if the car has a small acceleration or if it traveling at a constant speed. There is also a second version with the alternative outcome.

Car Crash - Measurement/Problem - Students figure out if a driver in a minor car crash is to blame. They check the driver’s statements against recorded information, measurements, and calculations to judge if the driver is telling the truth. This page has the information I gave them.

Map Measure - Lab/Phenomenon - Shows a map or image overlain with a digital ruler. Students can drop waypoints to form a route on the map. You can add your own map using the image URL by adding #imageurl on the end. For example: https://whscience.org/mapmeasure/#https://i.postimg.cc/sXGpff1M/image.png. Not all image hosts allow sharing images this way so I suggest using postimage.org You need the direct link including the “.png” or “.jpg” on the end.

Measuring Gravity - Measurement/Problem - I normally do an activity where I drop a metal ball down a three flight stairwell and have students time it. I can’t do that remotely so I will use this simulation. Students time a 10m drop and then can calculate g. They can then use that to calculate a greater distance.

Measuring Gravity Data - Lab/Phenomenon - The app records postion/velocity vs time data with some noise. Students can download the data and use linear regression to find the acceleration. They can run the simulation more times to gather more data and see their slope stabilize around a more accurate value. Built to help high school students use the analyzing and data practice.

Measuring g on Moons of Jupiter - Measurement/Problem - Students are given animations of a ball bouncing on four moons of Jupiter. They use a digital ruler and stopwatch to measure realistic values of g on each of the moons. I used it as a quiz where students were randomly assigned one of them and had to measure from the bottom to the top of the bounce and then calculate.

Motion Graphs - Lab/Phenomenon - Replicates an activity where you move in front of a motion detector and look at the position, velocity, and acceleration graphs. I like to have students try and make interesting graphs and then have others replicate them.

Motion Yes No - Measurement/Problem - One of the hardest things for physics students is keeping a clear distinction between velocity and acceleration. This app helps by putting a moving object in front of them and asking, ‘is there velocity?”, “is there acceleration?”, “is the velocity changing?”, etc. This is very frustrating for the students, but I find it to be very helpful. I have many versions of this asking about different quantities and including the direction. There is even a test version if people find it helpful. Keeps track of number in a row.

Pendulum - Lab/Phenomenon - Change the mass and string length of a pendulum and watch it swing. Height and velocity shown on screen. Students can measure the period by hand with a built in stopwatch. Data can be exported as csv. Also available with damping and in a simpler version without velocity and data export.

Roller Coaster Motion - Lab/Phenomenon - Change the angle of the slope and initial of a roller coaster. Record and download position, velocities, and acceleration. Data is also shown as graphs on screen. Also comes in a version without acceleration data if you want students to find acceleration themselves.

Velocity and Acceleration Example - Measurement/Problem - Shows dots moving to demonstrate what it means to have velocity with or without acceleration in different directions. All use “positive is to the right and negative is to the left” as a frame of reference. If you add #numbers on the end it shows numbers for the velocity and acceleration (no units since on the screen it is arbitrary). There is also a version that includes an object moving in a cicle.

vertical roller coaster - Lab/Phenomenon - The roller coaster travels vertically at a constant speed, waits at the top, and then falls. The main version shows position, velocity and acceleraiton graphs with downloadable data. Comes in two other versions: Without acceleration data hides the acceleration data so students can find it, Variable Height allows students to change the maximum height of the ride,

Stick Figure - Diagram Maker - I use a lot of dynamic stick figures to illustrate a motion I am describing in writing. semi detailed stick figures with two-segment arms and legs can really help demonstrate what is happening. This app helps making them easier.

Force and Momentum

Air Pressure Paper - Lab/Phenomenon - Very simple simulation of air particles hitting a paper. Drag the right edge of the paper to change its size. Measures the width of the paper and the number of hits per second. I once started the year with trying to flip a ruler with a single sheet of news paper on it. This simulation helped the students make sense of why the news paper is able to stop the ruler if it is flat but not if it is folded up.

Cart and Pulley - Lab/Phenomenon - Cart attached to a string over a pulley with a weight on the end. It has basic directions on the screen. Also available without directions.

Collisions - Physics - Change masses and initial velocities and measure final velocities. The basic app shows only initial and final velocities with hard collisions. Collision Spring gives adjustable springs to the carts and graphs velocity/acceleration/force vs. time. Data are downloadable as a csv. Collision with Wall shows one cart colliding with an immovable object and graphs with downloadable data. Collision Carts only shows velocites like the original but has the visuals and ranges like the versions with springs. Connected Carts connects the two carts by a spring. Students can add external forces.

Elastic Energy - Lab/Phenomenon - Drag to stretch a rubber band. Shows the distance, force required, and elastic energy. I use this for practice describing patterns as linear and non-linear.

Pull Cart - Lab/Phenomenon - Push or pull on a cart through a spring. The app records force and acceleration and graphs them so students can figure out the mass is the slope. Can export the data as csv. The Find Mass Version has three carts with different unknown masses. Students can download data and use linear regression to find the masses. Built to help high school students use the analyzing and data practice.

Spaceship Programming - Physics - Program an unmanned spaceship by turning on and off thrusters to maneuver to a target. Very game like with missions. Helps students think about forces, especially what Newton’s First Law means. Impulse is also implicit since thrusters need to be turned on for certain amounts of time.

Energy and Heat

Simulations of energy in planets and the atmosphere can be found in the Earth and Space page

Ball on Ramp With Energy - Lab/Phenomenon - Same as the version in the motion section but it displays KE and PE. No friction in this one so that energy is always conserved.

Elastic Energy - Lab/Phenomenon - Drag to stretch a rubber band. Shows the distance, force required, and elastic energy. I use this for practice describing patterns as linear and non-linear.

Electric Car - Lab/Phenomenon - Is this useful to anyone? I don’t know but I might as well put it here - You set the maximum speed of an electric car and watch the battery drain. I used it for my students to practice looking at linear and non linear relationships. It was part of a whole unit on electric cars.

Electric Car Data - Lab/Phenomenon - Students can change the car’s mass mass and force. The app measures the car’s energy drain from the battery after driving a certain distance. Students can download the data as a CSV file to analyze in a speadsheet. The way I used it, students found the relationship between force, distance, and change in energy to discover the work relationship. It was their introduction into using a spreadsheet to do arithmetic on data since their normal approach of finding a trendline didn’t work as the data was presented.

Energy Bars - Diagram Maker - Tiny app to make bar graphs of types of energy. Drag up and down in each bar. Double Tap the label at the top of a bar to remove it from the diagram. By default it shows kinetic (KE), potential (PE), chemical (CE), heat (HE), and total energy (TE). Hit save and it will download the image.

Heat Capacity - Lab/Phenomenon - Heat or cool metal balls of different sizes and materials and put it in water to measure the change in water temperature. You can watch visually or export a data series as csv.

Hill Distance - Lab/Phenomenon - A cart hanging from a spring scale on a ramp. Students can change the angle of the ramp, the height of the ramp, and the mass of the car. Using work = force × distance, they can discover patterns showing potential energy and its relationship to height and the dependence on the path. The way I used it, students used this to plan experiments to verify predictions on which mountains would be ‘harder’ to drive up. This helped separate the idea of force and power.

Pendulum - Lab/Phenomenon - Change the mass and string length of a pendulum and watch it swing. Height and velocity shown on screen. Students can measure the period by hand with a built in stopwatch. Data can be exported as csv. Also available with damping and in a simpler version without velocity and data export.

Storms - Lab/Phenomenon - Students change the temperature of the atmosphere and see the effect on clouds and wind. A very simplified version of a weather simulation. I used this as a summative assessment where students practiced finding patterns and then constructing explanations of why climate change causes more violent storms using ideas about kinetic and potential energy. in °C.

Temperature Solids - Lab/Phenomenon - Simulates the movement of particles in two solids at different temperatures. You can change the size of each solid (number of particles) and starting temperature and you can drag them to touch or not touch. You see a graph of their temperature over time. I made this for a friend so I haven’t used it personally, but It has been tested by a number of chemistry teachers.

Light and Waves

Index of Refraction - Lab/Phenomenon - How can you tell the difference between a real diamond and a fake? Use Snell’s law of course. Practice on water, glass, and plastic then determine if your diamond sample is real or a fake. In this simulation you drag and rotate a laser, ruler, and protractor.

Light and Temperature - Lab/Phenomenon - Change the temperature of a black body. See the distribution of light by wavelength and see an approximation of the color. I have a version that shows the distribution by frequency too I could fix up if there is interest.

Music Waves - Lab/Phenomenon - Keyboard that plays sounds and shows the wave on the screen. Can change the audio volume. Sound may not work on some old platforms. White keys only, black keys don’t work.

Two Wave Diagrams - Diagram Maker - Combines two waves and saves a png of the result. Waves can be combined with AM, FM, or with simple interference. AM and FM support square waves. Can change the wavelength, amplitude, and phase of each wave. Wavelength and Amplitude are in pixel units. For phase 1=-90° for some reason.

Wave Combination - Lab/Phenomenon - Students drag dots to form two (static) waves forms. The app shows what the combination would be if they were added. Also good for students making waves with different wavelengths/amplitudes.

Wave Interference - Lab/Phenomenon - Change the wavelength and amplitude of two waves and see the resultant wave. The waves move so it looks like a real wave.

Wave Measurement Practice - Measurement/Problem - The app generates a graph of a wave on a grid. Students practice measuring wavelength, amplitude, and number of waves. The app checks if they are right and keeps track of how many they have in a row.

Check back soon for more. Support ongoing development on patreon. whscienceteacher at outlook. com

See also: biology apps - chemistry apps - earth and space apps