Physlets: Teaching Physics with Interactive Curricular Material

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9780130293411: Physlets: Teaching Physics with Interactive Curricular Material

This manual/CD package shows physics instructors--both web novices and Java savvy programmers alike--how to author their own interactive curricular material using Physlets--Java applets written for physics pedagogy that can be embedded directly into html documents and that can interact with the user. It demonstrates the use of Physlets in conjunction with JavaScript to deliver a wide variety of web-based interactive physics activities, and provides examples of Physlets created for classroom demonstrations, traditional and Just-in-Time Teaching homework problems, pre- and post-laboratory exercises, and Interactive Engagement activities. More than just a technical how-to book, the manual gives instructors some ideas about the new possibilities that Physlets offer, and is designed to make the transition to using Physlets quick and easy. Covers Pedagogy and Technology (JITT and Physlets; PER and Physlets; technology overview; and scripting tutorial); Curricular Material (in-class activities; mechanics, wavs, and thermodynamics problems; electromagnewtism and optics problems; and modern physics problems); and References (on resources; inherited methods; naming conventions; Animator; EFIELD; DATAGRAPH; DATATABLE; Version Four Physlets). For Physics instructors.

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From the Inside Flap:

Preface

The World Wide Web makes it possible to transmit multimedia-enhanced documents interactively in a platform-independent fashion using Hypertext Markup Language, html. These documents are prepared and transmitted as text documents and can, therefore, be prepared with any text editor. Yet the html browser displays full multimedia information, including animated text, graphics, video, and sound. The recent introduction of the Java programming language by Sun Microsystems makes it possible to add platform-independent programs to this multimedia stew. Java accomplishes this trick by specifying a relatively simple Virtual Machine (VM), which can be implemented on any computer architecture (i.e., UNIX, Macintosh, or Windows Meyer 1997)). Although this VM does not provide as rich a set of tools as the native operating system, the virtual machine can have a user interface with buttons, a drawing canvas, and other graphical elements. There may be virtue in simplicity. Small, platform-indepen4ent programs are well suited for instructional purposes such as homework problems. These applets can be embedded directly into html documents and can interact with the user. This is accomplished with a scripting language such as JavaScript. We refer to the Java applets written at Davidson College for physics pedagogy as Physlets. This book demonstrates the use of Physlets in conjunction with JavaScript to deliver a wide variety of Web-based interactive physics activities.

The goal of this book is to enable you to incorporate Physlets in your instruction, whether you are a relative Web novice or are ready to write pages of JavaScript. Clearly, this is more than just a technical how-to book; we hope to give you some ideas about the new possibilities that Physlets offer. It often happens that the most valuable applications of new technologies are new teaching paradigms. But it takes considerable time and effort for these paradigms to become apparent. The examples presented in this book and on the accompanying CD are designed to make the transition to using Physlets quick and easy. This text provides examples of classroom demonstrations, traditional and Just-in-Time Teaching homework problems, pre- and post-laboratory exercises, and interactive engagement activities. Of course, if you already know how you want to use Physlets, you may turn to Part Three of this book, a reference to Physlet methods, and start scripting. But even hard-core programmers will appreciate the ease with which a preexisting Physlet problem, described in Part Two and available on the CD, can be modified for use in a new context. CONTENTS

Part One gives an overview of the pedagogy and the technology. After a brief introduction ("What Is a Physlet?"), we will argue that new methods are needed in the teaching of physics. If you already believe this to be true, you may feel free to skim Chapter 2 ("JiTT and Physlets," by Evelyn Patterson and Gregor Novak) and Chapter 3 ("PER and Physlets," by Aaron Titus and Melissa Dancy). In subsequent chapters, we will describe the underlying technology and how to install Physlets locally on your desktop or Web server. The core technology of Java and JavaScript is discussed in Chapter 5. Since Physlets are flexible and users can write their own problems, Chapter 6 gives a tutorial on how to script three of the most used Physlets, Animator, Efield, and DataGraph.

In Part Two, we give examples of curricular material that can be used as in-class exercises and homework problems in introductory and advance physics courses. There are over 100 of these examples in Part Two. These examples and an additional 80 problems are available on individual html pages on the CD that accompanies this book. The Additional Resources portion of the CD contains even more examples of curricular material from other institutions.

Part Three provides resources for instructors who are interested in scripting beyond the tutorial in Part One. These resources include a detailed description of the methods for version 4 Physlets: Animator, Bar, BField, Circuits, DataGraph, Data Table, Efield, EnergyEigenvalue, Faraday, Hydrogenic, Molecular, Optics, Poisson, and SurfacePlotter. COMPANION WEBSITES

Many of the Physlet problems provided in Part Two are included on Prentice Hall's Companion Website for Douglas Giancoli's two physics texts, Physics: Principles and Applications (5th edition) and Physics for Scientists and Engineers (3rd edition). The site is located at prenhall/giancoli. These resources are also available on Prentice Hall's Companion Website for College Physics (4th edition), by Jerry Wilson and Tony Buffa, at http:prenhall/wilson. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

There are a great many people and institutions that have contributed to our efforts, and we take great pleasure in acknowledging their support and their interest.

We thank our colleagues Dan Boye, Larry Cain, Tim Gfroerer, and John Yukich at Davidson College for their use of Physlets in the classroom and the productive discussions that developed from this use. Larry Martin at North Park University was an early adopter of Physlets and has provided numerous suggestions for improvements to both the programs and the text. Andy Gavrin at Indiana UniversityPurdue University, Indianapolis, has helped us to more closely tie Physlets to the Just-in-Time Teaching technique.

Mur Muchane has provided invaluable computer and network support throughout this project and Laura Cupples helped design and organized the Physlets CD.

W.C. would like to thank the numerous students who have worked with him over the years developing programs for use in undergraduate physics education. Some of our best Physlets are the result of collaborative efforts with student coworkers. In particular, we would like to single out Mike Lee, Cabel Fisher, and Jim Nolen.

M.B. would like to thank Anne Cox, Edward Deveney, Harry Ellis, Bill Junkin, and Steve Weppner for many useful and stimulating discussions about the incorporation of Physlets with existing curricular material.

Special thanks to Evelyn Patterson at the United States Air Force Academy; Taha Mzoughi at Mississippi State; Aaron Titus of North Carolina A&T; Loren Winters, Taylor Brockman and Jeremy Portzer at the North Carolina School of Science and Math; Robert Beichner, John Risley, Margaret Gjertsen, Jeff Saul, Scott Bonham, Duane Deardorff, David Abbott, Rhett Allain, Melissa Dancy at North Carolina State University; Larry Martin, Tait Swenson, and Robin Trautman at North Park University; and Morten Brydensholt at Orbit. All of these people contributed Physlet problems that appear on the Additional Resources part of the CD and and on the Davidson Web site.

We also thank Melissa Dancy and David Hestenes for the inclusion of the Physlet-based Force Concept Inventory (FCI) on the CD.

Workshops have been an especially fruitful arena for the give-and-take of ideas with fellow faculty. The Physlet strategy could not have grown and matured without these opportunities and the exchange of ideas that they afforded.

Some people have been such frequent contributors of time and ideas that we have brought them in as the authors of Chapters 2 and 3 of this book. However, we would like to thank Evelyn Patterson, Gregor Novak, Aaron Titus, and Melissa Dancy again, both for their writing and for the many valuable ideas we have gained during our associations with each of them.

We would like to thank Larry Cain for the many hours he spent reading the manuscript and making suggestions. Any mistakes that remain are likely the result of changes made since his last inspection.

Both of us express our thanks to Alison Reeves and her coworkers at Prentice Hall for supporting the development of Physlets while Java was still an untested technology, for encouraging us to write this book, and for securing permission to include problems from the Prentice Hall Companion Website in this text. Numerous others at Prentice Hall have helped in the production process, but we would especially like to thank Kim Dellas, Mike Banino, and Alison Lorber.

We also wish to express our sincerest thanks and apologies to those who have encouraged us the most: our spouses, Barbara and Nancy.

Review:

"You hold in your hand more than just another book about computational physics. Physlets are a tool enviornment-a method that will allow you to integrate the computer into your classroom in a way that is easy and powerful for both you and your students. Even better, it's a tool that can help us together build a community of physics instructors using computer tools and working together to improve physics teaching throughout the world."-From the foreword by Joe Redish, University of Maryland "The first problem I wrote for the Superposition Physlet was one on traveling waves. As I watch individual students interact with the animation, I was able to pinpoint where they were having difficulty in understanding the conditions for standing wave formation. In 23 years of teaching, this is the best tool I've found to help students comprehend wave superposition."-Loren Winters, NC School of Science and Math "I have found that the Physlet problems are a great tool to help students to understand the physics concepts. The Physlet problems help to develop student's ability to visualize concepts."-Mark Hardies, St. Petersburg Junior College "The physics community should tank the authors for developing the concept of scriptable Java applets that can be easily integrated into our courses. Their approach is very promising and this book will make it easier for us to use this approach in our curriculum development work."-Harvey Gould, Clark University and Jan Tobochnick, Kalamazoo College "Physlet-based problems are an invaluable tool in challenging students to learn how to solve physics problems and in helping them develop problem-solving strategies. Physlets force students to move beyond their initial novice approach of "plug and chug" as they must decide what "data" they need from the Physlet to work a problem."-Anne Cox, Eckerd College "We have found Physlets to be an excellent way to deliver pre-lab information and quizzes in our introductory physics courses. The students are presented with virtual equipment and experiences similar to those they will have in the laboratory. They are asked to make measurements and perform calculations exactly like those that will eventually be required in the laboratory. Physlets have become an important tool at Gustavus to ensure that students arrive prepared to get the maximum benefit from their two-hour physics labs, allowing them plenty of time for analysis and discussion of their results."-Chuck Niederriter, Gustavus Adolphus College "Although there isn't a single pedagogic magic bullet toe motivate and excite all physics students, the interactive and web-based Physlets bullet will certainly capture the imaginations of a great deal of today's students who have grown up on and thrive on multimedia exploration. It is a laboratory the students will visit again and again."-Edward Deveney, Bridgewater State College "Physlets are an amazing tool for learning physics concepts. They're fun, they're free, but even better than that, they enable students to learn ideas quickly. The visual impact allows a quick, intuitive grasp of physics, enabling students to have a better feel for the theories. The associated numerical data invites quantitative analysis. It is active, involved investigation at its best."-Bill Junkin, Erskin College

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