With all the free time (hah!) afforded by the new school year, we have been busy putting together new simulations for our students. Two of these made their way onto simbucket.com: “Graph Matching” and “Tennis Ball Cannon”. Both simulations are built using HTML5 technology and are optimized for phones and tablet screens.
We built “Graph Matching” as a supplement to the classic physics experience where students have to walk forward and backward in front of a motion sensor to match the graph on a computer screen. Our simulated version is miniaturized to fit on the small screen. Each student guides a character walking forward or backward to match a graph on their mobile device. It worked great in physical science class to drive home the idea that steeper slopes = faster speeds.
“Tennis Ball Cannon” is a model of our tennis ball launcher that we use to shoot football field goals from ridiculous distances. Our real-life tennis ball cannon typically launches tennis balls at greater than 80 meters per second, which meant that it was necessary to account for air drag in the model. Students can easily adjust launch speed, launch angle, drag coefficient, air density, ball mass, and ball cross-section to make more accurate predictions of the trajectory of a tennis ball. Our students had a great time using the model to determine how fast our cannon shoots.
We hope you enjoy these simulations as much as we have. Please give them a try and let us know what you think!
We are excited to announce our newest simulation, “Balloon Charging Lab”. This simulation walks through the process of charging a balloon, and then allows users to charge other objects. We took great care to represent the motion of the electrons in the various materials in a way that is accessible to middle school and high school physics students, and are looking forward to using it in our classes next week.
The simulation features:
-A realistic balloon hanging from the ceiling by a stretchy string
-Insulators whose electrons randomly move in their atom’s “cloud”, but are influenced by all of the charges around them
-Conductors whose electrons are free to move throughout the material
-Electron transfer between the balloon and the other objects
-Physics-accurate force calculations based on the location of all point charges
Please let us know if you are using the simulation in the comments below!
Winter break is a great time to look for new teaching resources. Here is an excellent one from the “Physics Education” Google+ group:
There are a huge number of physics simulations here, all developed by Frank McCulley, a high school physics teacher in New Jersey.
We have been looking for a good way to plot data for the “Constant Speed Motion” toy car lab we do at the beginning of the year, and his “Quick Graph and Linearization” tool is exactly what we needed. It will work on any device with a browser, and it gives a linear best fit line way more quickly than Microsoft Excel.
Let us know in the comments below if you have tried any of Frank’s simulations or tools, or have any other recommendations for great sites!
This past week in our iPad 1:1 physics classes we have been exploring momentum. Historically, we have opened with the “collision cart” lab. The plastic carts we use keep breaking and this year we didn’t have enough functional carts to run the lab.
iPads to the rescue! This year we demonstrated the collisions in the front of the room, then had students complete the lab virtually on their iPads. We had 100% engagement, as every student had to do their own thinking about transfer of momentum between the cars and how to show that momentum was conserved in every collision.
“Collision Cart” sim in each student’s hands + paper copy of lab in each student’s hands + pencil + calculator = 100% engagement
Click the picture below to show the simulation and lab that we used: