Dec 8

Computer Systems Allow A Different View Of Physics

Posted in Computer Stuff

UCLA’s Computer Promoted Understanding of Physics Concepts (CPUPC) has continued to be a major tool for students looking to understand the basic principles of physics.

The software provides five separate experiments demonstrating the principles presented in the standard curriculum’s lectures and laboratories. Each experiment is further divided into a demonstration mode and a test/report mode. For example, one experiment illustrates mechanics principles using a bouncing ball. In the demonstration mode, students can vary the numerical parameters associated with the ball, such as initial velocity, vertical and horizontal components, or the presence or absence of air, and get a graphical representation of the impact of such variations. In the test mode, students are required to complete specific, assigned experiments and then are graded based on lab reports of their findings. “Here,” says Bercham, “they can’t play with all of the variables. We may change the value of the acceleration constant, for example, and then ask the student to calculate this unknown. Unlike in the demonstration mode, they can’t play with the …

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