Multimedia tools for teaching Physics

Computers (and personal computers in particular) have seen in the last years a rapid emergence as a standard for teaching in several disciplines. A boost to this tendence has been given by the World Wide Web, which allows to disseminate multimedia information in a virtually processor-independent way, thus overcoming the problem of portability. The break-through has been the appearance of  languages (like Java) which allow to fully profit of interconnection and interactivity, and abandon a paradigm of a classroom teaching limited to a vertical exposition of well suited notions. Using these techniques, a teacher can organize his/her lectures as for an "open classroom".

Why multimedia Web tools (and Java in particular) for teaching physics ? Which are the pedagogical advantages ? What about reusability, and how to practically download material from the Web and reuse it ? What about distributed and network computing ? I have no answer. Moreover, "there are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy" and "the time is out of joint, that ever I was born to set it right." As for me, I am trying to make available for Physics students and colleagues some practical lists containing a set of tools that are useful in my courses in

Presently, I plunder, collect and mirror good interactive material around the Web (see the index below). This collection sacked most of the material collected and developed by some old eminent collaborators (and close friends) of mine (Battiston in Perugia, De Angelis in Udine, Zito in Bari, ...). I simply add some new tools useful to teach Theory Physics, I can't do otherwise.

A lot of useful more or less interactive tools (movies, Mathematica and MatLab programs, etc.) can also be found on the Web, or bought (the nice and cheap CDs from Amaldi for Zanichelli is a good example).

For a lot of computed related stuff, you may also consult the ensuing web page . Whereas, many methods and different symbolic manipulations have been collected in the Computer Algebra link.


Online educational resources for Physics teachers

The tables at the beginning give quick access to some outstanding resources. Follows a list of links classified in different categories.
Outstanding resources:mostly Java applets
Geometry/Trigonometry Manipula Math Geometry explorer Geometry center Spirograph Kaleidoscope Penrose tiler
Euclid's Elements Trigonometry : introduction Surface plotter Grid Blaster Game Escher Web Sketch hypercube
Cabri Geometrie NonEuclid Visual Geometry Trigonometric mathplets Planar Machines topology Cinderella
Chaos,fractals Chaotic pendulum Exploring Emergence Fractal Mandelbrot Lorenz butterfly CAffeine
Chaos demonstrations Life fractals in science Cellular automata Alife Fractal Maker
Double pendulum One-dimensional CA Dynamical Systems Automi cellulari lineari Dragon Curve Billiard Ball Computer
Introduction to Fractal Geometry Chaos Page Catastrophe Teacher
Vectors / Calculus Manipula Math MathServ Graphics for Complex Analysis cross product Calculus Infinite series ODE
Interactive real analysis Vector Calculator Complex function viewer Visual Calculus Vector Arithmetic Complex numbers made easy LAVA
Data analysis and statistics Statistics 101 Stats 101 The Central Limit Theorem Normal Distribution Interactive statistics Webstat
Probability by Surprise Statistics virtual lab Vlab in Prob. and Stat. Introduction Seeing statistics
Tools Eric Weisstein's Famous curves Function Plotter EqnViewer Equation Rendering 3dplot
Online Conversion Integrator Calculators online LiveGraphics3D Lisp interpreter The laws list
xFunctions xPresso Interactive math Contour plotting
Mechanics Kepler laws Kepler Motion The second law Ballistic simulator fun @ learning . physics Vibe oscillator simulator Black Holes
Momentum game The Pendulum Lab Time machine,I Galileo and Einstein Angular momentum conservation N-body simulation Introduction
Astronomy Emory Intro to Astronomy Astronomy 161: the solar system Solar System Simulator sky atlas Lunar phases
Sound/Waves Vibration and Waves Animations Sine waves Soundry Standing Waves MiniWaweMaker Vibration of a Drum Skin
Heat and Thermodynamics Ideal gas Kinetic Theory Simple heat engine Pressure Chamber Heat equation UCI applets
Maxwell Distribution MB Distribution Hands-On Boltzmann's Dream
Relativity Orbits in spacetime Numerical Relativity Lens a Astrophysicist
Electricity and Magnetism Exploring electric Fields IQ modulation Thermoelectric device hysteresis Electric field Electricity and Magnetism
Lissajous Lab Electric charges Condensatore Electric Field SimPhysics ElectroCard
Optics Why things have color Bragg's law Thin Lens Rainbow Caustic Spirals illusion Optical Illusions
Superamento preconcetti Aberrazioni Interferenza Light and Color Plane mirror Fiat Lux Diffraction Tutorial
Thin Film Interference Laser Adventure Fresnel Diffraction Ottica Geometrica Optical Table Specchio
Atomic and Nuclear physics Microcosm Radioactive decay Hands-on atom Ising model Photoelectric effect Physical Chemistry Nuclear data
Brownian Motion Orbitals Crystal growth Periodic Table
Quantum mechanics Quantum Physics Online Quantum Scattering Spectroscopic simulator Schroedinger cat Wawe eq. simulation Interferenza di elettroni Snell's law by Feynman
Feynman's approach to optics Quantenmechanik Visual Quantum Mechanics
Particle Physics Charged particle motion Accellerate a particle Gluon Machine Proton Neutrino
Particle Adventure, I Superstring Powers of ten
Engineering Hopkins Virtlab Signals Systems Control Wind tunnel Nuclear reactor Circuit simulator Semiconductor Applet Services
Aeronautic Ed. Res. dal Silicio al Computer
Virtual labs Uoregon vlab Project Java Manipula Math Cut the knot Connected Curriculum project Physics in Action Walter Fendt
Fisica con ordenator Fu-Kwun Physlets Physics-2000, I Visual Physics project Links Modules & Simulations
Interactive Explorations Project Interactivate IFMSA WebLab Kiselev Chevet Renault Molecular Expression
Azurnet Physics Labs Applet Collection mathe online Galerie,M Explore Science MSU Java Mirror Multimedia Physics Studio
Virtual Lab at Northwestern U. Applets at CSU Mcasco Course Math. Ideas in Science Physics Principles with Applications Physlets examples Surendranath
Experimental Math. Program Daniel Roth Greg Egan Mathematikos Overheads Article19
ASPIRE MSTE J.J. Rousseau Fowler Steffen Weber Giesen Living Math
ThinkQuest Interactive math Univ. Gent Quia Paul Falstad
Trailblazer pages Truman College Virtual Labs Math Archives Jars TIPTOP Science Gems
Leonardo Calculators Online Physik mit Java Chaos hypertextbook The World of Materials Materiale multimediale per la fisica
MERLOT Internet resources from aps Fisica 1 in Java StudyWEB Interactive Physics PIRA Webring
Scirus Mathtools Cont. College Phys. Simulation Library Javacats Fisica per tutti Alward eLectures
I - Italian version
M - Mirror site
Outstanding resources:other documents
Multimedia books Particle Adventure, I the Electron Nine Planets MacTutor Mathematica courses Theoretical Physics Fun
Nobel e-Museum MicroWorlds Mega-Mathematics Calculus with applications Views of the Solar System Mathmania
Science Ed. Gateway Textbook PFP 96 Black holes Beginners Guide to HEP Exploring Gravity Amazing Space
Interactive Phys. problem set Explorations Solitons Physical Chemistry Hawking's Universe Einstein online
Prendi le Stelle Britney's guide to semiconductors HyperPhysics IPPEX Interactive Physics Fizzics Fizzle!
Interactive applications Interactive Geometry Online Experiments Earth view
Animations quantum mechanics Quantum air-track
Chaos,fractals and dynamics Spanky IFS Lecture notes Strange Attractor Search Turbulent landscapes
Questions and Answers Sci FAQs Physics FAQ Ask the Experts! Last Word
Class Demonstrations Brown
Reference WebElements Nuclides Standard Model The Amateur Scientist Eric Weisstein
PDG The Why Files Bad Science How things work MathLand
The library Scientific American Am.Jou. of Physics Am. Scientist Computers in Physics Discover AIP Physics news
Cern Courier IOP Electronics Journals Nature New Scientist La Recherche tuttoscienze
Galileo Tech. Review Discovery online MIT theses Chemistry Classic Papers
Trailblazer pages PhysNet Yahoo Edulinks Math Archives Physics around the world NetScout
BUBL: Phys. education Internet scuola PhysEd World Lecture Hall Pilot to Physics Web66
MAD Scientist WWW als Lernhilfe Education World Hot Spots Science Gems Webscuola
I - Italian version
How these tables are built.

List of resources

Meaning of the colour assigned to each link

. Original material.

. Magazines,TV channels,e-zines about Science. Contain some interesting material.

. Didactic material publishers. These sell mostly software packages useful for didactic purposes. They have also a lot of material available for free.

. Other directories of resources.

. Newsgroups and mailing lists.

. Web use for Education(research and examples). This material is mostly uncorrelated with Physics but gives some idea on how to use the Web for education.

. AIP: the American Institute of Physics produces the Physics Academic Software Explore the science of physics with interactive educational software.

* Biblioteca Virtuale Lombarda

- Interactive Learning in Calculus and Differential Equations with Applications

- CAST - Center for Applied Special Technology Look at their study on the role of online communications in schools

. Chamber Works Software to teach particle physics in introductory classes.

- Colos ProjectA group of Eureopean universities exploits the didactical potential of XWindows workstations in Science teaching.

- Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) Magazine

- Contemporary Physics Education Projects(CPEP)

- Dynamical Systems and Technology Project

- The Epistemology and Learning Group of the MIT Media Lab

- Exploratorium's Digital Library

- EdWeb: an hyperbook by Andy Carvin on the implications of the Web for education. Check especially this part.

- The Geometry Center at University of Minnesota Applicazioni interattive,software,etc

- ICONNnect Connecting Learners to Information : initiative of the American associations of School Librarians with materials from courses about integrating Internet Resources into the Curriculum.

* ICPE Books Connecting Research in Physics Education with Teacher Education
This book was undertaken on behalf of the International Commission on Physics Education (ICPE) of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) - with support from UNESCO - to make available the results of research in physics education world-wide to physics educators working with pre- or in-service physics teachers.

- Inet96 Proceedings: papers on Internet use in classroom

- Interpersonal Computing and Technology Journal

* ISHTAR- Innovative Software for Higher-education Telematics Applications

* Italian general subject tree Didattica , Biblioteche , Scuola , Tecnologie .

* Kids Web - A World Wide Web Digital Library for Schoolkids

- K12 newsgroups. Check especially and ed.math

* K12(kindergarten to high-school)resources index

. Mathworks ("Matlab") home page

. Mathsoft ("Mathcad") home page

+ Multimedia World Wide Web PC

* Physics Around the World Everything connected to Physics

* PhysicsEd: Physics Education Resources Alan Cairn's (physics teacher at Washington University in Seattle) list of educational resources. -

- Usenet physics newsgroups

* Science :Museums and Exhibits

- SKYEYE: Un osservatorio astronomico virtuale

- SCRTEC-South Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium with a lot of material and examples of Internet use for K-12 education.

- The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc a non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the advancement of science and math education, specifically through the use of modeling and simulation technologies.

- ThinkQuest organizza una gara tra studenti di scuole medie americane.

- Transitional Mathematics Project at Imperial College, London is creating learning modules in mathematics, based on Mathematica for first-year university science and engineering students.

- WebPhysics at Davidson College

. Wolfram Research ("Mathematica") home page

    A collection of mirrored applets mostly coming from:
  • Walter Fendt,
  • Fu-Kwun Hwang,

  • and of shockwave files mostly coming from
  • Raman Pfaff (

Mechanics and Fluids

  • Resultant of Forces (Addition of Vectors)
  • Cross (vector) product
  • golf RANGE!
  • Shoot the Monkey
  • Air Track
  • Center of Mass
  • Pulley System
  • Lever Principle
  • Inclined Plane
  • Inclined Plane (a second version with online plot)
  • Newton's Second Law Experiment
  • Elastic and Inelastic Collision
  • Newton's Cradle
  • Carousel (Centripetal Force)
  • Freefall Lab - Terminal Velocity
  • Moment of Inertia
  • Hydrostatic Pressure in Liquids
  • Buoyant Force in Liquids
  • Density Lab
  • A Floating Log




  • Ohm's Law
  • Wheatstone bridge
  • RC Circuit
  • Lorentz Force
  • EM Fields
  • Cyclotron
  • Direct Current Electrical Motor
  • Generator
  • Simple AC Circuits
  • Electromagnetic Oscillating Circuit



    Oscillations, Waves and Optics

  • Pendulum
  • Simple Harmonic Motion
  • Spring Pendulum
  • Coupled Pendula
  • Lissajous Figures
  • Forced Oscillations (Resonance)
  • Driven Harmonic Motion (2 masses)
  • Harmonic Motion (2-D)
  • Longitudinal and transverse waves
  • Doppler effect
  • Beats
  • Standing Longitudinal Waves
  • Electromagnetic Wave
  • Doppler Effect
  • Reflection and Refraction of Waves (Huygens' Principle)
  • Reflection and Refraction of Waves (short)
  • Refraction of Light
  • Interference of two Circular or Spherical Waves
  • Simple Prism
  • Rainbow
  • Lenses and mirrors: a virtual bench
  • Fermat's Principle



    Various topics

  • Why we look for symmetry: the snow Flake Designer
  • Bohr's Theory of the Hydrogen Atom
  • Laser
  • Radioactive Decay Series
  • Law of Radioactive Decay



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    Last update : Thu, 13 Nov 2003 15:25:16 GMT