Experiences from Teaching Physics with iPython Notebook

By Anders Lehmann

  • Associate Professor, AARHUS UNIVERSITY

  • Denmark

    • Winner of EuroVision
    • Birthplace of Søren Kierkegaard


  • ipython is an awesome tool for teaching
  • But could do things better

Teaching Physics

  • Physics is considered hard by students

    • What is the use?
    • ElectroMagnetics is abstract
    • What is a field?
    • How do semiconductors work?

What’s good about ipython notebook?

  • Great tool
  • Feels lightweight
  • Like MatLab in a browser that starts counting at zero!

Physics extension

  • Adds physical quantities
  • Adds physical constants
  • Enables check if Units match
  • Started by: %load_ext physics

How do you make physics interesting?

  • Use real life examples demonstrated in ipython notebook
  • Be exciting and fun


  • Introduce ipython as an online calculator
  • Show that it can use units
  • Extend by adding small functions
  • Introduce plotting