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Workshop - Simulations for Physics Teaching

Powerpoint presentation: 
  Web simulation for Physics Teaching

Instruction sheet:
  Download and customise web based simulations for off-line use [PDF]

Workshop overview

  1. Sites with web simulations
  2. Find simulation pages - NatSim-Search
  3. Edit text and lay-out
  4. Upload your own web pages - NatSim light
  5. Discussion on the Internet
  6. Application: Just-in-Time-Teaching (JiTT)
  7. Configure the actual simulations (Physlets)
  8. Technical requirements
  9. Other multimedia resources for Physics Teaching


1. Sites with web simulations

    1. Physlets, Davidson College (Wolfgang Christian)
      see also point 7.
    2. National Taiwaan Normal University (Fu-Kwun Hwang)
      ca. 75 simulations
    3. Gymnasium Gersthofen, Germany (Walter Fendt)
      ca. 40 simulations

    and many others (see point 2.)

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2. Find simulation pages

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3. Edit text and lay-out

    1. Open MS Word on your computer. Open there an html file.
      In regard to point 4 this MUST have been downloaded with NatSim-Search using option  [html] !
      Choose from the menu "File/Open..." and select file type: "web pages .htm/.html" instead of "Word documents .doc"!
    2. Information about other web editors.

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4. Upload your own web pages

    NatSim light  - Publish html files through your browser without having an own web server ! 

    Beware: NatSim light is restricted:

    • Even though you have your own project folder - any user with password could alter your pages !
    • You can solely upload html files.
      Therefore, pages with simulations and/or images must be prepared by NatSim-Search (download option [html]).
    • Your files will be deleted after a while if you don't contact the NatSim adminstrator.

    To make it clear: We do our best to support your first steps towards your own web presence through NatSim. We try to keep this service sustainable. But we do not give the warranty of a professional server solution! You still have the option to hire web space from a commercial enterprise, e.g. GeoCities (also free if you tolerate advertisement).

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5. Discussion on the Internet

Meet your colleagues from this workshop on-line and discuss technical and educational issues on your own simulation pages:

6. Application: Just-in-Time-Teaching (JiTT)

    Lessons prepared on the base of direct feed-back by the students.
    Use of web pages with e-mail links as this one:
    (html), or web forms for:

    • motivation before introducing new concepts ("What is Physics good for?")
    • homework with investigations on simulations
    • evaluate the succes of the previous lesson

    Advantages at school:

    • students become affected by the discussion over their own wordings.
    • lessons are more predictable (less improvisations and unrest during the lessons)
    • students who have difficulties to contribute in class get another chance
    • comprehensive archive of student contributions throughout the whole year
    • students are better prepared, for the teacher contol is permanently

    an authentic example from a German school  (Thomas Poth, Annweiler, Germany)
    - sorry, I have none in English so far, but you get an idea about the amount of text you'll have to deal with -

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7. Configure the actual simulations

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8. Technical requirements


In order to display programs on web pages, your browser must be installed with additional plug-ins:

  • for applets (.jar, .class): a so-called Java Virtual Machine (JVM)
    Two possibilities:
    1. Al browsers: official version from SUN   - recommended
      Download (ca.14 MB), (archive: v1.4.2_04)
    2. Microsoft Internet explorer: built-in version (MSJVC)
      • doesn't support some newer applets (Java 1.2)
      • support from Microsoft ends by 2008 (Info)
      • is not available by default in some cases, e.g. Windows XP without SP1. (Download 1, 2, meer Info)
      • check this in menu Tools/Internet Options/Advanced.
  • for Flash / Shockwave (.swf/.dcr):  Flash player / Shockwave player from Macromedia


Web editors

Web pages can be edited with any plain text editor - for instance with Notepad. However, more comfortable than working with the html source are graphic web editors, e.g.:

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9. Other multimedia resources for Physics Teaching

    Refereed data base with thousands of multimedia examples for physics and other subjects
    (Click on the small triangles with a + sign to expand the sub-categories.)

  3. (German) Interaktive Bildschirmexperimente IBE (TU Berlin -> firma MHSG)
    e.g. Dampened oscillator.
    This and other examples: FiPS-Medienserver (user:medien pswd:uni-kl)

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Frank Schweickert, april 2004