Teachers' Tech Tools for PhysicsAugust 2, 2013 | Charlie Schofield
Armed with tools such as tablets (iPad, Kindle Fire, etc.), educators now gain access to a wide array of teaching weapons, especially in areas like physics or general mathematics. There are downloadable apps, videos and a plethora of resources. For example, scouring the virtual libraries of O2, Google Play and the App Store will show you many physics teaching tools. Here are some favorites.
Electrons (by Urban Sedlar) is a charged particle simulator which allows you to observe particle interactions, simulate a lightning rod, create a cathode ray tube, and better visualize all those hard-to-illustrate concepts. Electrons will help students understand the world of electricity and gain a deeper knowledge about it.
Bobo Explores Light
Thinking of hands-on experiments when discussing concepts about light can be tough. Bobo Explores Light (from Game Collage, LLC) is an app that will help you demonstrate the properties of light through easy-to-comprehend visualizations. Who wouldn't want to look at holograms? This will be a hit with younger students.
Gravity Lab (another app from Urban Sedlar) allows you to create your own universe, simulate the collision of massive bodies to explain how momentum is conserved, and see how the first two of Kepler's Three Laws of planetary motion work. This is the best tool to understand more about physics and how gravity affects the universe. It's a fun application to use and it clearly explains the laws of gravity.
Elementary students exploring physics apps
Credit: Brad Flickinger
SimplePhysics (by Jundroo, LLC) lets you build anything from bridges to Ferris wheels and make sure they're strong enough. This app allows you to model a structure and test whether it's tough enough to withstand external forces. Structural areas affected by immense strain are marked in red, which gives you a chance to fix your design. Also, you can test your structure by blowing it up or smashing it. SimplePhysics is effective for learning more about the basics of structural engineering. It also has a very user-friendly interface, which is perfect for students.
Particle Zoo (created by Richard Burgess) is based on the popular Particle Zoo plushies. This tool will help students understand the basic concepts behind particle physics. There are well-designed -- and admittedly really cute -- representations for each important particle, such as nucleons, quarks, leptons and all that good stuff. Teachers will definitely have as much fun as students with this app.
Vernier Video Physics
If you want to learn more about velocity, trajectory, and making a graphical analysis, the Vernier Video Physics (from Vernier Software and Technology) can help you out. Take videos of interesting objects in motion, and this app will draw their trajectory positions and velocity graphs. Students can now learn more about two-dimensional kinematics and its principles.
These are just a few of the many available apps that physics teachers can download and try during class. Of course, they're just tools. Ultimately, the wielder wins the war, not the weapon.
Do you have other physics apps you want to share? Drop us a line below.