Web tools for physics teaching

 

The School maintains an active Demonstration Unit so that, as far as possible, lecturers and tutors can demonstrate the physics they are teaching in the class room. On the other hand, we also develop animations and simulations, which are useful where effects are too small or too fast for simple demonstration (eg relativity), where abstract constructs are widely used (eg phasors in AC circuits) or for educational web sites. Such sites are used to support face-to-face teaching or for outreach and distance teaching.

The animation above is an animation of a classic Gedankenexperiment in special relativity (Relativistic time dilation, simultaneity and length contraction). “Light clocks” run at different speeds in the two frames because of the constancy of c, while one observer “tags” objects in the other’s frame to demonstrate length contraction. In this page, a series of simple, slow-motion animations are used to develop the expressions for relativistic effects. Linked pages explain the “twin paradox” and the “pole in the barn paradox”.


The figure above (from AC circuitsl) is an animation that shows why the reactance of a capacitor decreases with frequency, and how its voltage may be represented by a rotating phasor. This page presents, via animations, many of the elements of AC circuit theory — a topic that many students find difficult. It links to pages on related topics including filters, which are illustrated with sound files.

Joe Wolfe and George Hatsidimitris
 

 

 

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