Curricular Unit: Android Acceleration Application

Contributed by: IMPART RET Program, College of Information Science & Technology, University of Nebraska

Photo shows the tall Freefall amusement park ride at Six Flags Over Georgia where riders are rapidly accelerated due to the forces of gravity. The ride has since been closed and removed.
Many engineering designs rely on the understanding of acceleration due to gravity.
Copyright © 2006 WillMcC, Wikipedia {PD}


In the first of two sequential lessons, students create mobile apps that collect data from an Android device's accelerometer and then store that data to a database. This lesson provides practice with MIT's App Inventor software and culminates with students writing their own apps for measuring acceleration. In the second lesson, students are given an app for an Android device, which measures acceleration. They investigate acceleration by collecting acceleration vs. time data using the accelerometer of a sliding Android device. Then they use the data to create velocity vs. time graphs and approximate the maximum velocity of the device.

Engineering Connection

Lessons and activities in this unit support the teaching of basic engineering education, especially engineering mechanics and program/system design. The computer science-based first lesson engages students to design pseudo-code and real code to address a given problem. Computer software engineers at companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Google have used their programming knowledge to design applications for mobile devices, similar to the work students do in this unit. The second lesson, in which students design an experiment to gather and analyze data related to acceleration, fits into the engineering mechanics realm, which serves to bridge the gap between theory and application. Through engineering mechanics, especially the concepts used by mechanical engineers, students can analyze and predict the acceleration and deformation of an object due to forces, also known as stresses. Engineering mechanics is based largely on Newton's laws of motion.

Educational Standards

Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.

All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (

In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.

  • Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications. A variety of technologies, such as hand tools, measuring instruments, and calculators, should be an integral component of scientific investigations. The use of computers for the collection, analysis, and display of data is also a part of this standard. Mathematics plays an essential role in all aspects of an inquiry. For example, measurement is used for posing questions, formulas are used for developing explanations, and charts and graphs are used for communicating results. (Grades 9 - 12) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Give feedback on this alignment...
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Unit Schedule


Scott Burns, Brian Sandall


© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2012 University of Nebraska-Omaha

Supporting Program

IMPART RET Program, College of Information Science & Technology, University of Nebraska


The contents of this digital library curriculum were developed as a part of the RET in Engineering and Computer Science Site on Infusing Mobile Platform Applied Research into Teaching (IMPART) Program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha under National Science Foundation RET grant number CNS 1201136. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: March 23, 2017